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Two nettle pyralid moths varying population development of Inachis io Linnaeus, 1758, Aglais urticae Linnaeus, 1758, Eurrhypara hortulata Linnaeus, 1758, and Pleuroptya ruralis Scopoli, 1763 with the same larval food plants Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae et Pyralidae Zweimal zwei Brennesselfalter Unterschiedliche Bestandsentwicklungen von Inachis io Linnaeus, 1758, Aglais urticae Linnaeus, 1758, Eurrhypara hortulata Linnaeus, 1758, und Pleuroptya ruralis Scopoli, 1763 bei gleich



Two nettle pyralid moths varying population development of Inachis io Linnaeus, 1758, Aglais urticae Linnaeus, 1758, Eurrhypara hortulata Linnaeus, 1758, and Pleuroptya ruralis Scopoli, 1763 with the same larval food plants Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae et Pyralidae Zweimal zwei Brennesselfalter Unterschiedliche Bestandsentwicklungen von Inachis io Linnaeus, 1758, Aglais urticae Linnaeus, 1758, Eurrhypara hortulata Linnaeus, 1758, und Pleuroptya ruralis Scopoli, 1763 bei gleich



Atalanta (Marktleuthen) 36(3-4): 449-456



Caterpillars of all four species treated here feed on nettles (Urtica sp.) but their abundances developed quite different in the past quarter of a century or so. Whereas abundance of Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies remained quite unchanged from 1969 to 1986 despite of some major annual fluctuations numbers decreased markedly thereafter in the optimal habitat of the riverine deciduous woodland along the lower River Inn in south-eastern Bavaria between 1987 and 1995 (cf. figs. 1 & 2). But the other two lepidopteran species by comparison, the Pyralid moths Eurrhypara hortulata (L.) and Pleuroptya ruralis (Sc.) kept their numbers or increased (cf. figs. 3 to 7). Availability of the nettle plants for the caterpillars, therefore, cannot have been the cause of the decrease of the two well known garden butterflies. It is concluded here that the effects of eutrophication with nitrogen compounds, which favoured the growth of nettles, affected the four species differently according to their microhabitat requirements, especially with respect to the local growth conditions of the nettle stands (open, marginal or in closed forest vegetation). Generally enhanced growth of vegetation, therefore, may have favoured P. ruralis (Sc.) and to a lesser degree E. hortulata (L.) but became detrimental to the "sun loving" butterflies, the Peacock and the Small Tortoiseshell. They may be now dependent at least regionally to some degree to the annual spring migrants from the South.

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