Protected raspberry production accelerates onset of oviposition by vine weevils (Otiorhynchus sulcatus)
Abstract:• Soft fruit production is increasingly reliant on crops that are grown under the protection of plastic tunnels, which may also affect insect communities as a result of localized climate change and changes to host plant physiology and chemistry. In particular, insect development rates may differ from field populations, making it more difficult to target control measures.
• The present study investigated how protected environments affected adult vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) feeding and reproduction on red raspberry (Rubus idaeus). We focused on the period between adult emergence and the onset of oviposition (i.e. the pre-reproductive period), which represents the optimal period for control.
• Tunnels were up to 4 °C warmer than field plantations in 2008, with plants growing significantly faster (50% increase in height and 16% increase in leaf area) than field grown plants. The carbon/nitrogen ratio in leaves was higher in tunnels (12.07) than the field (10.89) as a result of a significant decrease in nitrogen concentrations (3.40 and 3.90 mg g−1, respectively).
• Over 4 weeks, weevils consumed significantly more foliage in tunnels (370.89 mg) than weevils in the field (166.68 mg), suggesting compensatory feeding to counteract lower leaf nitrogen concentrations. Weevils in tunnels achieved sexual maturity 8 days earlier than those in the field and produced 20-fold more eggs by the time they were 5 weeks old.
• Applying a degree-day model showed good agreement between predicted and observed pre-reproductive periods for weevils in tunnels (36 and 30 days, respectively) and in field plots (41 and 38 days, respectively).