Aggregation behavior of a willow flea beetle, Altica subplicata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

TitleAggregation behavior of a willow flea beetle, Altica subplicata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1990
AuthorsBach CE, Carr DS
JournalGreat Lakes Entomologist

This study examined the aggregation behavior of a specialist insect herbivore, Altica subplicata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), on its host plant, Salix cordata. Mark-recapture experiments were conducted in patches of S. cordata growing along the shores of Lake Huron. Beetles aggregated on individual host plants, but did not aggregate in larger areas containing many host plants. Plants colonized by marked beetles had significantly higher abundances of unmarked beetles than did plants that were not colonized by marked beetles. Experimental manipulations of the number of beetles present on plants showed that colonization rates by marked beetles were higher on plants with conspecifics than on plants which had all beetles removed the previous day. The sex of beetles, however, did not influence colonization behavior; both male and female beetles colonized plants regardless of the sex of beetles already present on plants. These results are discussed with respect to possible explanations for aggregation, and the role of aggregation and movement in influencing insect distributions.