Artificial diet trials for the butterfly Jalmenus evagoras (Lepidoptera; Lycaenidae)
Drumm, Kathryn D.
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A variety of artificial diets were developed for rearing Jalmenus evagoras butterflies (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in an attempt to replace the natural food source, acacia plants, and thereby decrease the time and work necessary in maintaining a butterfly colony in the laboratory. Published diets and commercially available mixes were used as the basis for most of the diets tested in this study. After tracking the survivorship and growth of larvae on various artificial diets, the most promising ones were further modified. Although no diets were successful in rearing larvae to pupation, some diets showed potential. Larvae appeared to be molting and growing on the Modified Morton (wheat germ and soy flour base), Vanderzant-Adkisson (wheat germ and casein base), and the Pinto Bean diets, and while no growth was observed in larvae on other diets there was still evidence of feeding. It was found that artificial diets with added plant material resulted in a higher average survivorship than diets containing no plant material. Also, adding preservatives to diets prevented the rapid deterioration of the diets, with seemingly no negative effect on feeding. While there have been artificial diets successful in rearing Lepidoptera, and even some Lycaenidae, there are no published diets artificial diets specifically for J. evagoras. Results from this study have provided a starting point for developing an artificial diet for J. evagoras larvae by elucidating promising diets for further testing. Only 3.5% of larvae reared on acacia plant cuttings successfully developed to pupation, which suggests that there should also be further studies on the basic rearing conditions for these larvae.