This study examined whether two species of lepidopteran larvae (Cleora scriptaria and Epiphyas postvittana) were deterred from feeding on the leaves of kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) after the leaves had been damaged in three different ways: by larval feeding, using a hole punch or a metal rasp. A hierarchy of choice experiments was performed in the laboratory, examining the feeding 'preference' of these insects between undamaged or previously damaged tissue within the same leaf, between different leaves and between different plants.
Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) is an understorey, forest tree which sustains conspicuous and substantial herbivory from the larvae of a geometrid moth, Cleora scriptaria.. This study examined the relationship between leaf abscission and the amount of damage a leaf had sustained. In the field, kawakawa trees showed no increase in the rate of leaf shedding in response to experimental damage by C. scriptaria larvae or to artificial damage produced by a hole punch, even when 90% of the leaf area was removed.
The pattern of herbivore damage on the New Zealand pepper tree (kawakawa; Macropiper excelsum) caused by its main insect herbivore (Cleora scriptaria) was investigated in the field and laboratory. In the field, only a small proportion of kawakawa leaves had no herbivore damage and C. scriptaria typically produced a number of small holes in each leaf. Leaves were shed at a rapid rate but leaf shedding was not increased by higher levels of herbivore damage.