Does Marking With DayGlo ECO Aurora Pink Pigment Powder Affect the Development or Survival of Monarch Caterpillars?

Nancy Shryock

Abstract


In order to understand insect movement, it is necessary to track individuals. One of the most common marking methods is to dust the insect externally with fluorescent powder.  However, it is important to know whether marking is detrimental to insect health.  This study was conducted to determine whether marking with fluorescent powder is feasible and safe for use in movement studies of monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) larvae.  Monarch larvae were exposed to DayGlo ECO Aurora Pink Pigment powder once during each instar to determine whether powder exposure affected their development and survival.  One hundred 1st instar larvae were divided evenly into two treatment groups, control and dusted.  Larvae in the dusted group were dusted with DayGlo ECO Aurora Pink Pigment powder during each instar.  They were reared to adulthood on Asclepius syriaca; development and survival of each individual was recorded.  Larval, pupal, and adult mass, pupal length and width, and adult wing length were recorded.  Adult butterflies were observed to determine whether they mated and laid eggs successfully.  The resulting eggs were monitored for hatching.  Our results suggest that DayGlo ECO Aurora Pink Pigment powder did not affect development or survival of Danaus plexippus larvae. Twenty-three caterpillars in the dusted group and 21 in the control group survived through the end of the study.  There were no significant differences in larval mass, pupal or adult measurements.  Surviving adults mated successfully and laid viable eggs.  This marking technique will be useful in future larval field studies.


Keywords


Insect Movement; Marking Methods; Monarch Butterfly

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