Skip to main content

Data from: Effects of immune challenge on the oviposition strategy of a noctuid moth

Cite this dataset

Staudacher, Heike; Menken, Steph B. J.; Groot, Astrid T. (2015). Data from: Effects of immune challenge on the oviposition strategy of a noctuid moth [Dataset]. Dryad.


Infections can have detrimental effects on the fitness of an animal. Reproducing females may therefore be sensitive to cues of infection and be able to adaptively change their oviposition strategy in the face of infection. As one possibility, females could make a terminal investment and shift reproductive effort from future to current reproduction as life expectancy decreases. We hypothesized that females of the noctuid moth Heliothis virescens make a terminal investment and adapt their oviposition timing as well as their oviposition site selectivity in response to an immune challenge. We indeed found that females that were challenged with the bacterial entomopathogen Serratia entomophila laid more eggs than control females one night after the challenge. Additionally, bacteria-challenged females were less discriminating between oviposition sites than control females. Whereas control females preferred undamaged over damaged plants, immune-challenged females did not differentiate between the two. These results indicate that terminal investment is part of the life history of H. virescens females. Moreover, our results suggest that the strategy of terminal investment in H. virescens oviposition represents a fitness trade-off for females: in the face of infection, an increase in oviposition rate enhances female fitness, whereas low oviposition site selectivity reduces female fitness.

Usage notes