Allocation of larval nutrients affects adult life history traits in insects. This study assessed the effect of moth age and wing loading on flight capacity in an outbreaking forest lepidopteran, Malacosoma disstria Hübner . Insects were collected from high and low density populations after larval feeding, and flight capacity was tested directly with flight mills and indirectly through the allometric relationship between wing area and body size. Insects from these same populations collected as eggs and fed with a synthetic diet in the laboratory were tested in a separate experiment. Male moth propensity to fly increased with wing loading only when moths were collected as pupae after feeding in the field at high population densities. Moth age and wing loading did not affect the distance flown by male moths in any of the population density—nutrient regime combinations tested. Energy use increased with flight distance in both experiments. The slope of the allometric relationship between wing area and body mass did not differ from isometry when moths were collected as pupae after feeding at low and high population densities in the field. The slope of this relationship was steeper for males collected from high than low population densities. There was no allometric relationship between wing area and body mass of moths collected from these same populations as eggs and fed ad libitum in the laboratory as larvae. The results suggest that male M. disstria can allocate resources to different life history traits in response to differences in population density.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3