Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

Las defensas de Passiflora (Passifloraceae) contra la oviposición de Heliconius cydno (Nymphalidae: Heliconiinae)


Kim Khuc



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Publication Date

May 2009


The purpose of this study was to determine the relative effectiveness of Passiflora defenses: elevated levels of cyanide, egg mimics, and variable leaf shapes, against oviposition from Heliconius cydno. The effectiveness of these defenses would reveal H. cydno’s preferences for oviposition sites and the primary criteria it uses when evaluating oviposition sites. Forty-two Passiflora oerstedii vines from the Monteverde Butterfly Garden, in Costa Rica, were divided into three treatments that added either cyanide, false eggs, or changed the shape of young leaves. Another twelve Passiflora coccinea vines were used in a second experiment that added false eggs to the young leaves, tendrils, and meristems. The results show trends that the various treatments deterred oviposition. Out of the 11 total eggs laid on leaves in the cyanide treatment, 82% of the total number of eggs was on the control leaves, then 9% on the methanol leaves and 9% on the methanol-cyanide leaves, indicating that the chemical cues from methanol discourage oviposition by H. cydno (!2 = 11.64, df = 2, p = 0.003). For the vines with false eggs, out of a total of 19 eggs, 68% of the eggs were on the control leaves (! 2 = 2.58, df = 1, p = 0.11). Lastly, the control leaves of the modified leaf shape experiment had 73% of the total number of eggs, 15, while the modified leaves had 27% (! 2 = 3.23, df = 1, p = 0.07). These trends show that H. cydno likely relies on chemical cues more than visual cues when choosing oviposition sites. In addition, the lack of evidence for larval cannibalism in H. cydno and its willingness to oviposit on multiple Passiflora species demonstrate that egg mimics and variable leaf shapes are less significant factors in oviposition decisions. El propósito de este estudio fue determinar la efectividad de las defensas de Passiflora: altos niveles de cianuro, mimetismo de huevos y las diferentes formas de las hojas; contra la oviposición de Heliconius cydno.


Passiflora, Nymphalidae, Butterflies, Mariposas, Monteverde Butterfly Garden (Costa Rica), Jardin de Mariposas Monteverde (Costa Rica), CIEE Spring 2009, CIEE Primavera 2009


Student affiliation : Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley Born Digital

Subject: topical

Passiflora; Nymphalidae; Butterflies; Mariposas; CIEE Spring 2009; CIEE Primavera 2009

Subject: geographic

Monteverde Butterfly Garden (Costa Rica); Jardin de Mariposas Monteverde (Costa Rica)



Holding Location

Monteverde Institute MVI



Passiflora (Passifloraceae) defenses against Heliconius cydno (Nymphalidae: Heliconiinae) oviposition



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