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Project description

Development of artificial diet to rear internal-feeding insects to accelerate research on new biological control agents of yellow starthistle and other alien weeds. (06XN035)
Program Exotic Pests and Diseases Research Program
L. Smith, USDA-ARS, Western Regional Research Center, Albany
Host/habitat Rangeland
Pest Yellow Starthistle Centaurea solstitialis
Discipline Weed Science
Natural Systems
Start year (duration)  2006 (One Year)
Objectives Further develop and test the "transfer diet" rearing system using larvae of Psylliodes chalcomera (Chrysomelidae) that attacks yellow starthistle stems and leaves.

Field test the "transfer diet" rearing system during foreign exploration on internal feeding.

Field test the "transfer diet" rearing system on larvae collected from Chondrilla (Asteraceae), Salsola (Chenopodiaceae), and Lepidium (Brassicaceae).

Internal-feeding insects can be effective biological control agents of invasive alien weeds, but they are usually difficult to collect and rear. The development of effective diets and rearing systems could greatly aid the discovery and evaluation of root-feeding insects for biological control. We will develop and test a system for rearing adult insects from field collected larvae that is useful for foreign exploration. We will test the system on a well-studied, root-feeding weevil of yellow starthistle, then on leaf and stem-feeding flea beetle of YST, and finally on prospective agents of Salsola, Chondrilla and Lepidium.
We have demonstrated that an artificial diet that was previously developed to rear the purple loosestrife root weevil, Hylobius transversovittatus, can be effective for completing the development of larvae that are dissected out of plants. We used this diet to rear to adult stage 38 to 50% of 63 larvae and pupae of the root crown weevil, Ceratapion basicorne, that were dissected from yellow starthistle plants in Turkey. This diet was also able to rear 100% of 12 fly larvae dissected from roots of tall whitetop (Lepidium latifolium, Brassicaceae) in Turkey, and 20% of 44 third instar larvae of the weevil Cychocleonus achates dissected from roots of field collected spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe) in Montana. We are continuing to evaluate modifications of the diet to improve survivorship of the insects and will test it on additional species of insects and plants this spring.

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