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with development affected by the low level of nitrogen in leaves (17.17–28.21 mg.g–1). Lindroth et al. (1991, 1997) noted the prolonged development of males and females of L. dispar fed on food with the low content of nitrogen. In pine looper moth (Bupalus piniarius L.), the caterpillars of which hatch usually in the 2nd half of July (Křístek, Urban 2004, Schwenke 1978), increased levels of nitrogen showed negative effects causing the prolongation of development (Katzel, Loffler 1995). At caterpillars of Choristoneura fumiferana Clem. feeding early in spring (Crummey, Otvos 1980), the content of nitrogen in needles of Abies balsamea (L.) Mill. did not affect the length of development (Shaw, Little 1972). Reasons of the development prolongation in treatment T3 can consist in the slightly stressing response to the high concentration of nitrogen as compared with natural conditions of oak forests.
The weight of female pupae of L. dispar fed on leaves of unfertilized birch trees was markedly lower as compared with treatments enriched by nitrogen. The fall of weight of pupae at the reduced content of nitrogen in the food of caterpillars of L. dispar was noted by a number of authors (Joseph et al. 1993, Lindroth et al. 1991, 1997, Giertych et al. 2005), further Shaw, Little (1972) at pupae of Ch. fumiferana and Bryant et al. (1987) at pupae of Choristoneura conflictana Walk, which are early spring species (Prentice 1955).
Male caterpillars fed on food with the low content of nitrogen consumed higher amounts of food to complete their development, which was also proved by Lindroth et al. (1991, 1997).
Although Danaus plexippus L. is a regularly migrating moth with four generations per year (Ackery, Vane-Wright 1984), it responded similarly as L. dispar (Schroeder 1976). However, Hättenschwiler, Schafellner (1999) noted the growth of the consumption of food with the increasing content of nitrogen in needles of spruce at caterpillars Lymantria monacha L., which is, however, surprising at an early spring species (Křístek, Urban 2004, Schwenke 1978).
Different responses of males and females to changes in the quality of food of L. dispar were also confirmed by Lindroth et al. (1991, 1997) and Giertych et al. (2005). More than one half of the amount of nitrogen assimilated by the caterpillar of a future female is used for the production of eggs (Montgomery 1982).
In the laboratory rearing of caterpillars of gypsy moth (L. dispar) the lack of nitrogen in food became evident as a stress factor. This stress manifested itself in the increased mortality and prolonged development of caterpillars of L. dispar as well as in the decreased weight of pupae in control rearing. Under conditions of the lack of nitrogen, male caterpillars needed to ingest the higher amount of food to complete their development. Through this experiment a hypothesis has been supported that spring phytophagous species prefer tissues with the higher content of nitrogen. Nevertheless, caterpillars can respond to very high inputs of nitrogen in food also negatively.
This work was carried out under projects funded by the grant project NAZV QH 82113 and VZ MSM 6215648902, and on the financial support of regional join stock companies and concerns: Netex Ltd. in Děčín, and Constellium Extrusions Ltd. in Děčín, District Authorities in Děčín, Nadace ČEZ Co. Prague, Lafarge cement Co. in Čížkovice, Severočeské doly Co. Chomutov, Dieter Bussmann Ltd. in Ústí n. L.
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