Pierid Butterflies, Legume Hostplants, and Parasitoids in Urban Areas of Southern Florida

Suzanne Koptur, Andrea Salas Primoli, Hipolito Ferreira Paulino Neto, James Whitfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Are parasitoids less likely to find their Lepidoptera hosts on non-native hostplants than native hostplants? We predicted that with longer periods of coevolution between herbivores and the plants they consume, the parasitoids that provide top-down control would be more attuned to finding their hosts on native plants. To test this hypothesis, we collected immature stages of sulfur butterflies (the cloudless sulfur (Phoebis sennae) and the orange-barred sulfur (Phoebis agarithe) over a three-year period (2008–2011) from native and ornamental hostplants in the genus Senna in three different parts of the urban landscape of Miami, Florida, USA. We reared the immature specimens to pupation and either eclosion of adults or emergence of parasitoids and compared the levels of parasitization among the three areas, and among native vs. exotic hostplants. We found, contrary to our prediction, that caterpillars feeding on non-native leguminous hostplant species were more likely to be parasitized than those feeding on native hostplants. We discuss this surprising finding in the light of recent findings in other plant/herbivore/parasitoid systems.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024


  • caterpillar
  • urban
  • tritrophic
  • parasitoid
  • native plants
  • Hymenoptera
  • hostplant
  • Fabaceae
  • extrafloral nectaries
  • exotic plants
  • Diptera


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