Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Rebecca Simmons


Larvae of the Arctiinae use an impressive arsenal of defenses to protect themselves against natural enemies. Several species within this subfamily have been studied for their defensive capabilities, specifically the use of plant secondary metabolites. Life history and sequestration patterns of secondary metabolites have been well documented for Grammia incorrupta; however, little information exists for other species of Grammia. Furthermore, information on sequestration patterns during the immature stages of several Grammia spp. is largely unknown. To address these gaps in knowledge, I am conducting a comparative study of the chemical ecology and life history traits for the virgin tiger moth (Grammia virgo), the little virgin tiger moth (Grammia virguncula) and the figured tiger moth (Grammia figurata) throughout larval development. I divided larvae into four treatment groups: one on white clover (Trifolium repens), one on broadleaf plantain (Plantago major), one on narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata), and one on a wheat-germ based artificial diet. I collected data on development time for each instar, larval weight at each instar and overall survivorship. A subset of larvae was also harvested at each instar; these samples were prepared for chemical analysis to determine presence or absence of aucubin and catalpol at different instars. Aucubin and catalpol are found in one or both of the Plantago species used in this study. Here I will present results of the feeding trials and the chemical analyses of the Grammia tiger moths and discuss implications of these results on the understanding the chemical ecology and development of these species.