Caterpillars of the Gypsy moth and kostenloses willingly eat the leaves of poplar trees damaged by fungi than healthy, reported in Ecology Letters. Apparently, they are attracted to the high content of mannitol in infected leaves. In addition, this food contains more of nitrogen compounds, including amino acids and nutrition it helps the caterpillars to grow faster. It turns out that the species that were previously believed to be leaf-eating, in fact I prefer mushrooms.
Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) is a common butterfly caterpillars which feed on the leaves of many tree species. The number of ocneria dispar may increase abruptly, and then on the ground, where he abundantly multiplied, the caterpillars cause the trees considerable damage. One of the types that are particularly affected in such cases, — black poplar (Populus nigra).
Researchers from the Institute for chemical ecology, max Planck Society, headed by Francisca Eberle (Franziska Eberl) decided to find out how it affects eating poplar leaves unpaired silkworm, the presence of other tree pathogens, primarily rust fungus Melampsora larici‐populina. All three species (fungus, insect, and plant) are typical for Europe, they are not imported, so — long co-exist, and certainly some of their characteristics have developed as a result of living together. The part of their scientists showed in previous works: it turned out that caterpillars are attracted to volatiles emitted by urediniospores of rust, and together these pests poplar changes the set of compounds that it secretes into the air.
Now researchers have suggested that the Gypsy moth caterpillars are healthy poplar leaves infected with rust. Researchers evaluated not only the preferences of insects, but the chemical composition of the leaves with a mushroom and without it, and the growth rate of the caterpillars, and which parts of leaves they eat in the first place. In addition to the Gypsy moth and Melampsora larici‐populina in the work also used the larvae of the common kistenbosch (Orgyia antiqua), which is also harmful to poplars and the spores of powdery mildew (one of the representatives of order Erysiphales; it was the mushrooms).