Egg weights of Speyeria (Nymphalidae) species from California were measured to estimate relative sizes of first-instar larvae. First-instar larvae were compared for diapause intensity and for their physiological and behavioral responses to atmospheric humidity and free water. Diapause intensity, measured by number of days between first instar and molt to second instar, ranged from 7.6 d (Speyeria nokomis) to 40.7 d (Speyeria callippe). Among species, diapause intensity was uncorrelated with egg weight, but within three species (S. nokomis, Speyeria mormonia, and Speyeria zerene), diapause intensity was positively correlated to egg weight. There was significant interspecific variability in the desiccation tolerance of diapause larvae to low (11% RH) humidity. The least and most desiccation-tolerant species, respectively, were S. nokomis (LT50= 1.9 d) and S. callippe (LT50 = 13.6 d). Interspecific desiccation tolerance was uncorrelated with egg weight. Larvae of S. nokomis moved from lower to higher humidity within a humidity gradient, whereas larvae of S. callippe did not move toward higher humidity. Desiccated larvae of S. callippe and S. zerene rehydrated by imbibing free water. Exposure of S. callippe and S. zerene larvae to 100% RH in the absence of free water did not result in a body weight increase, but high humidity conditions reduced the rate of water loss.
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