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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Crop Bioprotection Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #202351

Title: Diapause in the leaf beetle Diorhabda elongata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), a biological control agent for tamarisk (Tamarix spp.)

item Bartelt, Robert
item Zilkowski, Bruce

Submitted to: Environmental Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/16/2007
Publication Date: 6/8/2007
Citation: Bean, D.W., Wang, T., Bartelt, R.J., Zilkowski, B.W. 2007. Diapause in the leaf beetle Diorhabda elongata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), a biological control agent for tamarisk (Tamarix spp.). Environmental Entomology. 36(3):531-540.

Interpretive Summary: The tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda elongata) has become a valuable biological control agent in the U.S. for the invasive weedy tree, tamarisk (members of the genus, Tamarix). In the present research, this beetle species was studied in the laboratory to better understand its overwintering biology. Adults are the overwintering life stage, and whether they reproduce or go into diapause (the hibernation condition) was found to depend on the number of hours of daylight they receive. Long days (16 hours of light), such as those occurring in late spring or early summer, lead to full development of the reproductive system in both sexes, to production of the aggregation pheromone in males, and to mating, egg laying, and dispersal behaviors. On the other hand, short days (12 hours of light), such as at the end of summer, lead to shrinkage of reproductive system, to stoppage of pheromone production, to buildup of body fat (energy reserves for winter), and to onset of behaviors leading to hibernation within the leaf litter or soil. These physiological changes with day length are extremely important for the survival of the beetles under field conditions. Understanding of this basic information will lead to more effective use of the beetles by land managers and, ultimately, to more successful control of tamarisk.

Technical Abstract: The tamarisk leaf beetle Diorhabda elongata Brulle deserticola Chen was collected in Northwestern China and has been released in the Western U.S. to control tamarisk (Tamarix spp.). Characteristics of diapause and reproductive development in D. elongata were examined to improve management as a biocontrol agent. Under long days, 16:8 (L:D) h, males began to emit aggregation pheromone within 2-3 days of adult emergence, mating occurred and females oviposited within 7 days of adult emergence. Under short days, 12:12 (L:D) h, males did not emit pheromone, mating did not occur, and both males and females entered reproductive diapause marked by inconspicuous gonads and hypertrophied fat body. Ovaries of diapausing females lacked vitellogenic oocytes and the ovarioles were clear and narrow, while reproductive females had enlarged ovaries with 2-3 yellow oocytes per ovariole. Diapausing males had thin, transparent accessory glands and ejaculatory ducts, while reproductive males had thick white accessory glands and white opaque ejaculatory ducts. Sensitivity to diapause-inducing photoperiods extended into the adult stage. Reproductive females ceased oviposition, resorbed oocytes, and entered diapause when switched from long to short days. Diapause-destined insects ceased feeding and entered the leaf litter 10 to 20 days after adult emergence, while reproductive insects remained on the plants and fed for at least 30 days. Reproductive insects exhibited dispersal behaviors, such as attempted flights, while diapause-destined insects did not show dispersal behaviors. Information gained from these investigations will be used to better manage populations in the field and to improve rearing and storage in the lab.