Milkweed bug

Devi Newcombe.

Milkweed bugs mating while feeding on the milkweed seed - Asclepias syriaca.

Understanding the evolutionary maternal responses of the milkweed bug

University of Exeter

University of Exeter PhD student Devi Newcombe’s project aims to examine how insects evolve in response to ecological change, specifically focusing on the large milkweed bug – Oncopeltus fasciatus.

The research will provide an insight into reasons for genetic variation of the large milkweed bug to determine how offspring evolve in response to changes in their environment.

Devi has carried out extensive laboratory work and dietary manipulations to investigate the characteristics of the milkweed bug and study how changes in parental transmission of resources effect the growth and development of offspring.

The work undertaken by Devi provides a contribution to the wider field of research looking at the influence of maternal effects in this insect. Devi has started to disseminate her research at conferences and has received positive feedback.

This research could be of particular interest to the agriculture sector in Cornwall and may be considered as a model system to study the potential responses of insects due to changes in their ecological environment.