1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Yellow starthistle and Scotch thistles are important invasive weeds in the western USA that originated from the Mediterranean Region. Little is known about insects attacking these plants in Turkey. We will determine the identity, host specificity and impact of insects attacking these plants in Turkey to assess their potential as biological control agents.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Surveys will be conducted in Turkey to find insects that attack yellow starthistle and Scotch thistle. The taxonomic identity of insect species will be determined, and information on geographic distribution and known host plants will be summarized. Experiments will be conducted to evaluate the host plant specificity and potential impact on the target weed of the most interesting insect species under field and/or laboratory conditions. Live specimens will be sent to the USDA-ARS quarantine laboratory for further host specificity studies with native North American plant species.
This research supports Objective 2, to discover and evaluate the host specificity and efficacy of prospective biological control agents. Exploration was conducted in the Mediterranean region for prospective biological control agents of Russian thistle. Beetles from host plants collected during a field experiment conducted in 2012 at Igdir, Turkey, were reared to adult stage and identified. Specimens of Larinus filiformis sent to our quarantine laboratory are being used in quarantine experiments to evaluate host plant specificity.