Material Information

Aphid infestations reduce monarch butterfly colonization, herbivory, and growth on ornamental milkweed
Mach, Bernadette
Jaret C. Daniels
Adam G. Dale


dataset ( sobekcm )


Human disturbance is driving global biodiversity loss, including the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), a dietary specialist of milkweed. In response, ornamental milkweed plantings are increasingly common in urbanized landscapes, and recent evidence indicates they have conservation value for monarch butterflies. Unfortunately, sap-feeding insect herbivores, including the oleander aphid (Aphis nerii), frequently reach high densities on plants in urbanized landscapes. Aphid-infested milkweed may inhibit monarch conservation efforts by reducing host plant quality and inducing plant defenses. To test this, we evaluated the effects of oleander aphid infestation on monarch oviposition, larval performance, and plant traits using tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), the most common commercially available milkweed species in the southern U.S. We quantified monarch oviposition preference, larval herbivory, and larval weight on aphid-free and aphid-infested milkweed. We also measured plant characteristics on aphid-free and aphid-infested milkweed. Monarch butterflies deposited three times more eggs on aphid-free versus aphid-infested milkweed. Similarly, larvae fed aphid-free milkweed consumed and weighed twice as much as larvae fed aphid-infested milkweed. Aphid-free milkweed had higher total dry leaf biomass and nitrogen content than aphid-infested milkweed. Our results indicate that oleander aphid infestations can have indirect negative impacts on urban monarch conservation efforts and highlight the need for effective Lepidoptera-friendly integrated pest management tactics for ornamental plants.
Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Bernadette Mach.
General Note:
Dataset including nitrogen content, total dry organic matter, oviposition, leaf weight consumed, and larval weight for research conducted in 2021-2022.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright Creator/Rights holder. Permission granted to University of Florida to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.


This item is only available as the following downloads: