Leaf-tying by tortricid larvae as an adaptation for feeding on phototoxic Hypericum perforatum

Sherri L. Sandberg, May R. Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Hypericin, an anthrone dimer in Hypericum perforatum (Guttiferae), is shown for the first time to be phototoxic to generalist lepidopteran larvae; survivorship was reduced and development prolonged for Heliothis zea (Noctuidae) and Platynota flavedana (Tortricidae) that consumed hypericin diets in the presence of light. Survivorship for both species is enhanced when photoactivating wavelengths are excluded by filters. In nature P. flavedana successfully survives on H. perforatum by tying together leaves and feeding inside the ties. Shielded from light, the larvae are protected by their mode of feeding from phototoxic compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-885
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 1989



  • Heliothis zea
  • Hypericum perforatum
  • Lepidoptera
  • Noctuidae
  • Platynota flavedana
  • Tortricidae
  • hypericism
  • phototoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry

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