Larval Tunnels of Phytobia betulae (Diptera: Agromyzidae) in Birch Wood

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Abstract:

Larval tunnels of Phytobia spp. cause esthetic damage to plywood and timber of birch (Betula spp.) by discoloring the wood. These tunnels appear as brown stripes on the surface of the wood. Larval mines can be observed by carefully removing the bark and the thin layer of wood covering the tunnels. The bark from 29 older and 71 younger birch trees was removed to study the biology of Phytobia and the structure of larval tunnels. Most of the tunnels started above the lowest living branch of the host tree, and≃ 1/3 of them continued down to the roots. All exit holes were found at the end of wide tunnels and were situated either at the tree base or in the roots. Phytobia larvae live a protected life: they mine in the zone of differentiating xylem between the cambium and the lignified xylem elements, and they must reach the base and roots of the host to complete their development. Mines become filled with thick-walled parenchyma cells that store lipids. Larvae did not affect tree growth and survival. High larval mortality may be related to cessation of diameter growth of the tree.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 1998

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