, Volume 88, Issue 2, pp 204-210

The effects of feeding damage in ragweed Ambrosia artemisiifolia (Asteraceae) on populations of Zygogramma suturalis (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae)

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Field sampling indicated that the number of eggs laid by a Zygogramma suturalis female within a sampling plot correlated inversely with the mean degree of ragweed damage. Feeding on extensively damaged ragweed in the laboratory caused a drop in oviposition intensity, and a considerable proportion of females completely stopped oviposition. Feeding on slightly damaged ragweed had no significant effect on oviposition intensity. Ovipositing females preferred to feed on the intact ragweed and lay their eggs close to it. The locomotory activity of ovipositing females was significantly higher on highly damaged ragweed whereas non-ovipositing (diapausing) females and males were behaviourally indifferent to the extent of ragweed damage. Under natural conditions, ovipositing females more frequently left damaged host plants for less damaged one. If the degree of ragweed damage is high over a large area, the insects that were unable to find undamaged plants for several days oviposited less and some females entered diapause. The adaptive effect of these reactions is a decrease of population density in advance, before it might drop as a result of starvation. These results are in agreement with the second model of insect reaction to the damage-induced changes in a host plant (Edwards and Wratten 1987).