Survival, development, and oviposition of the polyphagous insect Mamestra configurata Walker (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) were compared on different host plant species of the families Brassicaceae [Brassica rapa L., Brassica napus L., Brassica juncea (L.) Cosson, Sinapis alba L., and Thlaspi arvense L.], Compositae [Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.], Leguminosae (Pisum sativum L. and Medicago sativa L.), Linaceae (Linum usitatissimum L.), and Chenopodiaceae (Chenopodium album L.). Larvae developed faster on intact host plant tissue of all species than they did on excised leaf tissue. First instars of M. configurata did not survive on leaves of T. arvense. Although 97% of larvae survived to the sixth instar on M. sativa, complete mortality was observed on this host plant before pupation. On the other host plants studied, survival rates to sixth instar and pupation were similar. C. album was significantly more preferred than all other species in larval feeding choice experiments, whereas B. juncea and M. sativa were significantly less preferred than the other species. Pupal weights were highest on C. album and S. alba and were lowest on P. sativum and B. juncea. Larval development was most rapid on C. album and was slowest on B. juncea. C. album was significantly more preferred for oviposition than B. napus, B. rapa, C. arvense, and B. juncea. The ovipositional and feeding preferences for C. album suggest that species of Chenopodiaceae were important hosts of M. configurata before vast monocultures of B. napus and B. rapa were introduced to western North America.
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