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Temptations of weevil: feeding and ovipositional behaviour of Hylobius warreni Wood on host and nonhost bark in laboratory bioassays

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• Warren root collar weevil Hylobius warreni Wood (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) is a long-lived, flightless insect native to coniferous forests across northern North America. Girdling by larval feeding causes significant mortality on young trees. The insect poses considerable challenges to reforestation.

• Adult weevils feed on all life stages of a variety of coniferous hosts prior to oviposition. Their relative feeding preferences, however, have not been quantified. Moreover, it is not known whether host bark influences oviposition behaviour.

• Feeding preferences of adult weevils were tested in both choice and no-choice laboratory bioassays using small branches from three conifers (lodgepole pine Pinus contorta var. latifolia, interior hybrid spruce Picea glauca×engelmannii, and Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii) and one deciduous tree (trembling aspen Populus tremuloides). Measurements included the surface area of bark consumed, rate of consumption, the number of days of feeding, and, in the no-choice assay, the number of eggs oviposited.

• Bark consumption was greatest on pine and Douglas-fir, followed by spruce. Little to no feeding occurred on aspen. Consumption did not vary between male versus female insects for any of the feeding metrics quantified.

• The presence of aspen branches did not inhibit feeding on any of the other species in the choice bioassays.

• The number of eggs laid by female insects did not differ significantly among tree species in the no-choice assay. Eggs were laid indiscriminately in the presence of all four host types.

• Results and opportunities for future research are discussed in the context of formulating new integrated pest management strategies for this insect, which is increasingly important in the period of reforestation subsequent to the mountain pine beetle epidemic in western Canada.
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Keywords: Choice assay; Coleoptera; Curculionidae; Douglas-fir; Warren root collar weevil; feeding behaviour; feeding preferences; host selection; interior hybrid spruce; lodgepole pine; no-choice assay; trembling aspen

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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