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Open field host selection and behavior by tamarisk beetles (Diorhabda spp.) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in biological control of exotic saltcedars (Tamarix spp.) and risks to non-target athel (T. aphylla) and native Frankenia spp

Moran, Patrick J., DeLoach, C. Jack, Dudley, Tom L., Sanabria, Joaquin
Biological control 2009 v.50 no.3 pp. 243
Diorhabda, biological control agents, host range, host plants, Tamarix, introduced plants, weed control, nontarget organisms, Tamarix aphylla, Magnoliopsida, indigenous species, risk assessment, oviposition, population density, tree damage, Texas, Nevada
Biological control of invasive saltcedars (Tamarix spp.) in the western U.S. by exotic tamarisk leaf beetles, Diorhabda spp., first released in 2001 after 15 years of development, has been successful. In Texas, beetles from Crete, Greece were first released in 2004 and are providing control. However, adults alight, feed and oviposit on athel (Tamarix aphylla), an evergreen tree used for shade and as a windbreak in the southwestern U.S. and México, and occasionally feed on native Frankenia spp. plants. The ability of tamarisk beetles to establish on these potential field hosts was investigated in the field. In no-choice tests in bagged branches, beetle species from Crete and Sfax, Tunisia produced 30-45% as many egg masses and 40-60% as many larvae on athel as on saltcedar. In uncaged choice tests in south Texas, adult, egg mass and larval densities were 10-fold higher on saltcedar than on adjacent athel trees after 2 weeks, and damage by the beetles was 2- to 10-fold greater on saltcedar. At a site near Big Spring, in west-central Texas, adults, egg masses and 1st and 2nd instar larvae were 2- to 8-fold more abundant on saltcedar than on athel planted within a mature saltcedar stand being defoliated by Crete beetles, and beetles were 200-fold or less abundant or not found at all on Frankenia. At a site near Lovelock, Nevada, damage by beetles of a species collected from Fukang, China was 12-78% higher on saltcedar than on athel planted among mature saltcedar trees undergoing defoliation. The results demonstrate that 50-90% reduced oviposition on athel and beetle dispersal patterns within resident saltcedar limit the ability of Diorhabda spp. to establish populations and have impact on athel in the field.