Submitted to: Environmental Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 12, 2005
Publication Date: October 1, 2006
Citation: Smith, L., Drew, A.E. 2006. Fecundity, development and behavior of Ceratapion basicorne (Coleoptera: Apionidae), a prospective biological control agent of yellow starthistle. Environmental Entomology. 35(5):1366-1371. Interpretive Summary: Yellow starthistle is an alien weed that has invaded about 20 million acres in the western U.S. It is especially abundant in Pacific western states. The spiny plant interferes with grazing livestock and outdoors recreation,it is fatally poisonous to horses, and it outcompetes desirable vegetation. Six species of insects have been introduced as biological control agents, but they are not providing sufficient control. Foreign exploration in the Mediterranean Basin indicates that the weevil, Ceratapion basicorne, could be an important biological control agent. The insect attacks the roots of immature plants in the spring before the plant can reproduce. Little is known about the biology and host specificity of this insect because of the difficulty to obtain females that are ready to lay eggs. We successfully colonized this insect and collected fundamental information on its life history that provides a basis for conducting experiments to evaluate it as a potential biological control agent.