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Survival, longevity and fecundity of overwintering Mesoplatys ochroptera Stål (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) defoliating Sesbania sesban (Leguminosae) and implications for its management in southern Africa

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1 The defoliator beetle, Mesoplatys ochroptera Stål, is a serious pest of the legume tree sesbania (Sesbania sesban (L.) Merrill) in agroforestry systems in southern Africa. The survival of the overwintering stage of M. ochroptera and post- emergence longevity and fecundity of adults in sesbania fallows in eastern Zambia were quantified.

2 Only adult M. ochroptera survived during the winter (May–August) and the dry season (September–October) hidden under weeds, plant litter, in soil cracks and under rocks. During these periods , some beetles were occasionally found feeding on S. sesban, particularly in natural stands in humid areas. The adults were parasitized by the braconid Perilitus larvicida van Achterberg at a rate of 8.5–16.4%. The beetles stayed in the winter refuges for up to 210 days and emerged with the first heavy rains in October–November. The effective survival of beetles overwintering in an insectary was 18.1% in 1998 and 37.7% in 1999, and that of beetles overwintering in the field was estimated at 0.4 and 2.8% in 1998 and 1999, respectively.

3 The post-emergence longevity and oviposition period of females in the insectary was 14–31 days and 5–29 days, respectively. The post-emergence fecundity varied from 87 to 783.

4 It is concluded that the serious M. ochroptera infestation observed every year following the rains is due to synchronous emergence of overwintered resident adult populations and their high capacity for reproduction on many species of Sesbania. Recommendations for pest management in sesbania planted-fallows are given.
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Keywords: Fecundity; Mesoplatys ochroptera; Sesbania spp; Zambia; longevity; overwintering

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Zambia/ICRAF Agroforestry Project, PO Box 510046, Chipata, Zambia and 2: CABI Bioscience Centre Switzerland, 1 Rue des Grillons 2800 Delémont, Switzerland

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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