Overwintering strategy of two weevils infesting three gorse species: When cold hardiness meets plant-insect interactions

Publication Type:Journal Article
Authors:M. Barat, Vernon, P., Tarayre, M., Atlan, A.
Journal:Journal of Insect Physiology
Date Published:February
:Exapion ulicis

The cold hardiness of two closely related weevil species, Exapion ulicis and E. lemovicinum was studied in relation to their life cycles. These two seed-eating weevils reproduce on Ulex plant species with different fruiting phenologies. E. ulicis lays eggs in spring and overwinters as an adult while E. lemovicinum lays eggs in autumn and overwinters as a larva. Adult weevils were collected in natural populations of Brittany (Western France) and characterized with morphological and molecular tools before experiments. We showed that both weevil species exhibited low supercooling points (SCPs) with mean seasonal values below -17 [degree]C. Fresh mass, moisture content and sex were not correlated to supercooling ability. Weevils died upon freezing and the lower lethal temperatures (LLT) were within the range of SCP, indicating that both species are freezing intolerant. Comparison between species for SCP, LLT and survival to exposure at -8 [degree]C in winter showed a higher cold resistance for E. ulicis than for E. lemovicinum. In addition, the seasonal evolution of cold hardiness differed depending on the species. These features suggest that response to cold of weevils is linked to their life cycles, and thus to the life history of their host plants.

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