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Interaction between flight, reproductive development and oviposition in the pine weevil Hylobius abietis

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• The development of reproductive and flight capacity of pine weevils Hylobius abietis during the spring and their dispersal to, and subsequent development at, new clearfell oviposition sites comprise key phases in their life cycle in managed forests. At an old clearfell site where autumn-emerging weevils had overwintered, weevils were trapped as they re-emerged in the spring and tested for their ability to fly and then dissected to determine the degree of wing muscle and egg development.

• Re-emerging weevils were most abundant in pine growing at the edge of the clearfell and, over most of the trapping period (April to June), their capacity for flight (proportion flying and wing muscle width) was more advanced than in weevils from the clearfell itself, with a similar trend in the degree of reproductive development (proportion with mature eggs and egg volume).

• In weevils from the clearfell, flight capacity and reproductive development increased concurrently to a peak around mid-May. In weevils from pine, wing muscles were already well developed at the start of trapping, although few of them flew. Their more advanced development was attributed to the increased opportunities for maturation feeding after emergence in the previous autumn.

• In the spring, weevils reached the canopy of trees for maturation feeding by walking and, to a lesser extent, by flight. Weevils dispersed by flight to oviposition sites in mid-May when most of them were reproductively mature. After arrival, flight ability and wing muscle size declined rapidly but egg production was maintained until most weevils had stopped flying. When wing muscles reached their minimum size, there was a marked decline in egg size, suggesting that wing muscle breakdown is important in maintaining egg production at oviposition sites. Prospects for further wing muscle and reproductive development are discussed.
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Keywords: Maturation feeding; Pinus sylvestris; oogenesis; wing muscle development

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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