We compared the richness and abundance of free-feeding herbivore insects (sap-sucking and leaf-chewing), leaf herbivory damage, leaf toughness and total phenolic content between two ontogenetic stages (juvenile and reproductive) of Handroanthus spongiosus (Rizzini) S. O. Grose (Bignoniaceae) throughout the rainy season in a Brazilian seasonally dry tropical forest. Twenty marked individuals of H. spongiosus were sampled per ontogenetic stage in each period of the rainy season (beginning, middle, and end). Herbivore richness and abundance did not differ between ontogenetic stages, but higher percentage of leaf damage, higher concentration of phenolic compounds, and lower leaf toughness were observed for juvenile individuals. The greatest morphospecies abundance was found at the beginning of the rainy season, but folivory increment was higher at the end, despite the fact that leaf toughness and total phenolic content increased in the same period. No significant relationships between leaf damage and both total phenolic content and leaf toughness were observed. These results suggest that insect richness and abundance do not track changes in foliage quality throughout plant ontogeny, but their decrease along rainy season confirms what was predicted for tropical dry forests. The general trends described in the current study corroborate those described in the literature about herbivores and plant ontogeny. However, the lack of relationship between herbivore damage and the two plant attributes considered here indicates that the analyses of multiple defensive traits (the defense syndrome) must be more enlightening to determine the mechanisms driving temporal and spatial patterns of herbivore attack.