Effects of dietary variation on growth, composition, and maturation of Manduca sexta (Sphingidae: Lepidoptera)

T. Ojeda-Avila, H. Arthur Woods, R. A. Raguso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Most studies linking dietary variation with insect fitness focus on a single dietary component and late larval growth. We examined the effects of variation in multiple dietary factors over most life stages of the sphingid moth, Manduca sexta. Larvae received artificial diets in which protein, sucrose, and water content were varied. The relationship between larval size, growth and consumption rates differed significantly across diets. Larvae on control and low-sucrose diets grew most rapidly and attained the largest pupal and adult sizes. Conversely, larvae on low-water and low-protein diets initially grew slowly, but accelerated in the fifth instar and became pupae and adults comparable to control animals in size. There were no fundamental differences in protein:carbohydrate consumption patterns or strategies among experimental diets and larval instars. However, inadequate dietary water appeared to be more important for early than late instar larvae. Larvae on all artificial diets showed increasing fat content throughout all stages, including wandering and metamorphosis. Compensatory feeding among low-water and low-protein larvae was correlated with significantly higher fat content in larvae, pupae and adults, whereas low-sucrose animals were substantially leaner than those on the control diet. These differences may have strong effects on adult physiology, reproduction, and foraging patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-306
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003


  • Artificial diet
  • Composition
  • Fat
  • Growth
  • Manduca sexta
  • Nutrition


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