Publication Date

Fall 9-27-2012


Ecological Entomology





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1. Herbivorous insects often have close associations with specific host plants, and their preferences for mating and ovipositing on a specific host-plant species can reproductively isolate populations, facilitating ecological speciation. Volatile emissions from host plants can play a major role in assisting herbivores to locate their natal host plants and thus facilitate assortative mating and host-specific oviposition.

2. The present study investigated the role of host-plant volatiles in host fidelity and oviposition preference of the gall-boring, inquiline beetle, Mordellistena convicta LeConte (Coleoptera: Mordellidae), using Y-tube olfactometers. Previous studies suggest that the gall-boring beetle is undergoing sequential host-associated divergence by utilising the resources that are created by the diverging populations of the gall fly, Eurosta solidaginis Fitch (Diptera: Tephritidae), which induces galls on the stems of goldenrods including Solidago altissima L. (Asteraceae) and Solidago gigantea Ait.

3. Our results show that M. convicta adults are attracted to galls on their natal host plant, avoid the alternate host galls, and do not respond to volatile emissions from their host-plant stems.

4. These findings suggest that the gall-boring beetles can orient to the volatile chemicals from host galls, and that beetles can use them to identify suitable sites for mating and/or oviposition. Host-associated mating and oviposition likely play a role in the sequential radiation of the gall-boring beetle.