Field assessment in land of origin of host specificity, infestation rate and impact of Ceratapion basicorne a prospective biological control agent of yellow starthistle

Sibel Uygur, Lincoln Smith, F. Nezihi Uygur, Massimo Cristofaro, Joe Balciunas

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Abstract

Yellow starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis (Asteraceae), is an important invasive alien weed in the western United States. Currently established biological control agents attack only the capitula (flowerheads), and are not effectively controlling the plant in much of its range. The geographic center of diversity for the plant appears to be in Turkey, but no agents have been introduced from this country. Ceratapion basicorne (Coleoptera: Apionidae) is common in Central Turkey, attacking 25-100% of yellow starthistle plants. In a field experiment, Ceratapion spp. attacked 90% of yellow starthistle plants and 88% of milk thistle plants (Silybum marianum) but not seven other plant species, including artichoke and safflower. We suspect that a different species of insect attacked milk thistle, but they emerged before the plants were sampled. Laboratory tests showed that C. basicorne does not oviposit in milk thistle. Ceratapion basicorne appears to be more host specific than was suggested by previous studies of a population in Italy (Clement et al. 1989. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 82: 741-747). The insect is gregarious, and the number of larvae per plant was positively correlated to root diameter. The level of damage to individual plants was positively correlated to the proportion of plants attacked, indicating aggregation both among plants and within plants. Field data did not show any impact of the insect on plant size or number of capitula, but germination rate of seeds produced by infested plants was 15% lower than for uninfested plants at two of three sites studied. © Springer 2005.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525 - 541
Number of pages17
JournalBioControl
Volume50
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science

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