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No-choice experiment. Palatability exhibited by Uresiphita maorialis larvae for three species of Sophora plants ± SD ( n = 30) during the 3-hour trials. The shaded portion of the circles represents the proportion of dishes of each plant species in which a caterpillar ate some part of the leaf. ST, S. tetraptera ; SM, S. microphylla ; SP, S. prostrata . Different letters indicate signi fi cant differences between treatments ( P < 0.01). 

No-choice experiment. Palatability exhibited by Uresiphita maorialis larvae for three species of Sophora plants ± SD ( n = 30) during the 3-hour trials. The shaded portion of the circles represents the proportion of dishes of each plant species in which a caterpillar ate some part of the leaf. ST, S. tetraptera ; SM, S. microphylla ; SP, S. prostrata . Different letters indicate signi fi cant differences between treatments ( P < 0.01). 

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In a three-hour bioassay, we tested the palatability and feeding preferences of Uresiphita maorialis (kōwhai moth) for Sophora tetraptera, Sophora microphylla and Sophora prostrata. Palatability tests showed no differences among the Sophora species. Feeding preferences, on the other hand, showed that S. tetraptera and S. microphylla leaves are pref...

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... Wilk normality and homoscedasticity tests were employed to analyse the data ’ s distribution for each experiment. Normally distributed data were analysed using a one-way analysis of variance for no-choice and multi-choice tests, while t -tests were used in paired choice tests. Kruskall – Wallis and Wilcoxon ’ s independent paired tests were used to analyse data that were not norm- ally distributed. A Tukey HSD post hoc test was carried out to check for variations within the treatments for the one-way analysis of variance. The data were analysed using the STATISTICA 7.1 © statistical package. We tested palatability by placing larvae in a no- choice situation where there was only feeding substrate available. The results of the experiments showed no differences ( F = 0.57, NS, d.f. = 2) among the consumption options of leaf material, showing that all treatments were equally accepted by the larvae. Although many caterpillars did not feed during the trials, the measured levels of effective consumption were above 50% in all treatments (Fig. 2). The first feeding preferences trial was carried out through a paired choice experiment (Fig. 3). The larvae could choose only between two feeding substrates at the time. Sophora prostrata was the least preferred feeding substrate when paired with S. tetraptera ( Z = 4.72, P < 0.01) and S. microphylla ( Z = 4.782, P < 0.01). The larvae did not show specific preferences for either the S. tetraptera or S. microphylla substrate ( Z = – 0.4564, NS). When testing the three species simultaneously (Fig. 4), we found significant differences in the consumption levels of leaf material, with S. tetraptera showing higher levels of consumption than S. microphylla and S. prostrata ( H = 58.76, P < 0.01, d.f. = 2). In a number of cases, we observed that some larvae refused to feed during the trial. We were not able to explain this particular behaviour, although, in some cases, larvae have been reported not to feed for unknown reasons in laboratory trials (Sagers 1992). In this study, we defined palatability as the quality of the plant material to be accepted as a feeding substrate by our herbivore. All three species of Sophora offered in the trials were equally palatable to U. maorialis . Interestingly, S. prostrata , which is widely used as an ornamental plant in Wellington gardens, had never been reported as a host plant. Although U. maorialis fed on S. prostrata in laboratory bioassays, further experiments are necessary to test the capacity of the larvae to develop into adult stages and to produce viable progeny when reared on S. prostrata . The objective of the choice and multi-choice experiments was to test a situation commonly found in gardens and parks where two or more potential host plant species occur in the same physical space. The paired choice experiment confirmed our hypo- thesis that S. tetraptera was the most preferred feeding substrate. Although we did not analyse the influence of chemical compounds and leaf anatomy on the caterpillar ’ s feeding choices, our results are consistent with those observations made in the field. Hence, in terms of palatability and feeding preferences, we found that the larvae in captivity ...