Although herbivory in ground-rooted flora is well documented, current knowledge of the herbivore pressure on vascular epiphytes remains mostly anecdotal. Here, we present the results of a 3-year study on the herbivory in a population of the epiphytic bromeliad Vriesea sanguinolenta. In different years, 26–61% of all epiphytes showed traces of herbivore attack, while up to 4.4% of the entire leaf area of the epiphyte population was consumed annually. The recorded levels of damage to photosynthetic tissue, mostly caused by the larvae of Napaea eucharilla (Riodinidae, Lepidoptera), indicate that vascular epiphytes may be regularly and sometimes even lethally attacked by insect herbivores. The level of damage is comparable to ground-rooted tropical flora, which certainly does not support the prevalent notion of low and negligible levels of herbivory in vascular epiphytes.
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