Temperature-dependent development and potential distribution of Episimus utilis (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae), a candidate biological control agent of Brazilian peppertree (Sapindales: Anacardiaceae) in Florida

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The invasive Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi), native to South America, is widely established throughout central and south Florida. The defoliating leaflet-roller Epitimus utilis Zimmerman was selected as potential biocontrol agent of this invasive species. The objectives of this study were to determine development rate and survival of E. utilis at seven constant temperatures (10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 33, and 35°C) and generate prediction maps of the number of generations per year this species may exhibit in the United States. The rate of development of E. utilis as a function of temperature was modeled using linear regression to estimate a lower developmental threshold of 9.6°C and the degree-day requirement of 588. The Logan nonlinear regression model was used to estimate an upper developmental threshold of 33°C. Cold tolerance of E. utilis was examined using all insect stages, and each stage was exposed to three constant temperatures (10, 5, 0°C) for 0.5, 1, 2, 4, and 8 d (or until all insects died). The pupal stage was the most cold tolerant with 100% mortality after 12 d at 0°C. The pupal lethal times at 5 (Ltime50 = 10 d, Ltime90 = 28 d) and 0°C (Ltime50 = 5 d, Ltime90 = 9 d) were used to generate isothermal lines to predict favorable regions for E. utilis establishment. A GIS map was generated to predict the number of generations of E. utilis (range, 0.5-9.8) across all Brazilian peppertree range in the United States. The potential for establishment of E. utilis and its probable distribution in the continental United States was examined. © 2008 Entomological Society of America.

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Environmental Entomology

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