Larvae of the high arctic caterpillar, Gynaephora groenlandica (Wöcke) (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae) spent most (60 %) of their time orienting towards the sun (i.e. basking) and only 20% feeding, primarily near midday. Larvae usually basked after feeding, then either fed again or moved to a new feeding site. Basking larvae reached their highest body temperatures (Tb) of ≊30°C (≊20°C in excess of the ambient temperature) when surrounded by snow on a calm day in the midday sun. Setae significantly decreased larval cooling rates. Maximal metabolic rates were attained in basking larvae, but at body temperatures below 10°C oxygen uptake was greatly reduced. Our studies indicate that G. groenlandica larvae are behaviourally adapted to utilize available solar radiation for growth and development.
- © 1988 by Company of Biologists