Diapause induction in Gratiana boliviana (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), a biological control agent of tropical soda apple in Florida

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The South American leaf-feeding beetle Gratiana boliviana Spaeth (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) has been released since 2003 in the southeastern United States to control the invasive weed tropical soda apple, Solanum viarum Dunal (Solanaceae). Successful establishment of a biological control agent in temperate and subtropical regions depends on several life-history adaptations, including winter diapause. The timing of diapause allows the syncronization of insect herbivores with the phenology of plants, and field observations in Florida suggested that G. boliviana overwinters as an adult in diapause. The objectives of this study were to describe the diapause of G. boliviana and determine the effect of temperature and photoperiod on diapause induction. Compared with nondiapause adults, diapausing adults were yellow rather than green, had hypertrophied fat bodies, contained little food in the digestive tract, showed negligible ovarian development, and minimal movement of the hind wings when the beetles were placed on their dorsal sides. Although all nondiapause females laid eggs during a 30-d period, only five of 76 diapausing females laid eggs and this occurred only during the first 15 d of the treatment period. Consistent with morphological indicators of diapause, the respiration rate was 2.3 times lower and fat content was 2-3 times greater in diapausing adults compared with nondiapause adults. In a laboratory study, the critical daylength for diapause induction was found to be 12 h:28 min. © 2011 Entomological Society of America.

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Annals of the Entomological Society of America

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