Boring in response to bark and phloem extracts from North American trees does not explain host acceptance behavior of Orthotomicus erosus (Coleoptera: Scolytidae)

Abigail J Walter, Stephen A Kells, Robert C Venette, Steven J Seybold
Environmental Entomology 2010, 39 (2): 661-9
When invasive herbivorous insects encounter novel plant species, they must determine whether the novel plants are hosts. The Mediterranean pine engraver, Orthotomicus erosus (Wollaston), an exotic bark beetle poised to expand its range in North America, accepts hosts after contacting the bark. To test the hypothesis that O. erosus accepts hosts on the basis of gustatory cues, we prepared bark and phloem extracts from logs of four North American tree species that we had used in previous host acceptance experiments. Water, methanol, and hexane extracts of red pine, tamarack, balsam fir, and paper birch were presented alone and in combination on a neutral filter paper substrate in a section of a plastic drinking straw. Boring behavior in response to the three-extract combinations differed from the pattern of acceptance previously observed among species when the beetles were in contact with the bark surface. Only the aqueous extracts of tamarack, Larix laricina, increased the initiation and the extent of boring by O. erosus on the filter paper substrate. We conclude that the effects of extracted chemicals do not match the behavior of the beetles observed when penetrating excised bark and phloem discs, indicating that host selection by O. erosus may not be predictable from bark and phloem chemistry alone. Instead, host acceptance may be determined by nongustatory stimuli or by a combination of stimuli including gustatory and nongustatory cues.

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