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The role of vision in the host orientation behaviour of Hylobius warreni

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Visual stimuli, often in combination with olfactory stimuli, are frequently important components of host selection by forest‐dwelling phytophagous insects.

Warren root collar weevil Hylobius warreni Wood (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) is a native insect in western Canada, where larvae feed primarily on lodgepole pine Pinus contorta and can girdle and kill young trees. This weevil is an emerging problem in areas heavily impacted by mountain pine beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins.

No olfactory attractants have been identified for this insect, making monitoring and management difficult. Thus, we investigated the role of vision in the host‐finding behaviour of Warren root collar weevil in the absence of known olfactory cues.

We conducted three experiments in field enclosure plots aiming to characterize aspects of host‐finding behaviour by adult Warren root collar weevil.

We found that both male and female weevils were readily attracted to vertical plastic silhouettes in the shape of a trunk, crown or tree at distances of less than 4 m. This pattern of attraction persisted over 2 years in two slightly different study designs. Blinding the insects removed their ability to orient to these silhouettes, indicating that host‐finding behaviour has a strong visual component. The use of different colour trunks and crowns (black, white and green) did not change the patterns of attraction of the insects to the silhouettes.

Exploiting visual attraction in this walking insect may present a new management tool in forest protection strategies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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