Document Type


Date of Original Version



Plant Sciences


As black swallow-wort, Vincetoxicum nigrum L. Moench, and pale swallow-wort, V. rossicum (Kleopow) Barbar., spread throughout the northeastern United States and southern Canada, there is concern about the impact of these invasive plants on populations of the native North American monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus L. Recent laboratory studies in New York and Ontario, Canada, have found little or no oviposition by monarch butterflies on the two Vincetoxicum species. In Rhode Island, we found 10.5–21.7% oviposition on Vincetoxicum species relative to common milkweed Asclepias syriaca L. in choice tests and 11.9–20.3% in no-choice tests in 2 yr of laboratory testing. These results were supported by field cage trials where monarchs given a choice between V. nigrum and A. syriaca laid 24.5% of their eggs on V. nigrum. In surveys of three pasture fields in Rhode Island where relative coverage of A. syriaca exceeded that of V. nigrum by a 0.77:0.23 ratio, 15.4% of monarch eggs were found on V. nigrum plants. In V. nigrum stands with very little A. syriaca (6.25 stems/ha), monarch egg density on V. nigrum was found to be over five times greater than in the three mixed pasture fields. In none of our laboratory or field evaluations was there any survival of monarch larvae on Vincetoxicum species. It seems that in Rhode Island, Vincetoxicum species serve as an oviposition sink for monarch butterflies. These findings suggest that East Coast butterflies may differ in host selection from those in central New York and southern Ontario, Canada.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Environmental Entomology





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