Feeding patterns and attachment ability of Altica subplicata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) on sand-dune willow

TitleFeeding patterns and attachment ability of Altica subplicata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) on sand-dune willow
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsGannon AJ, Bach CE, Walker GK
JournalGreat Lakes Entomologist

To investigate feeding patterns of a specialist herbivore, Altica subplicata, larvae and adults were caged separately on host plants, Salix cordata, and leaf damage was estimated. Young, relatively more pubescent leaves near the tops of the shoots were consumed more than older leaves. Larvae clearly preferred the young, pubescent leaves and avoided the oldest leaves. Adults showed a stronger preference for the first five young leaves, but amount of consumption did not differ among the older leaves. Attachment ability on smooth and pubescent leaves was examined as a possible factor influencing feeding patterns. Scanning electron microscopy of tarsal adhesive structures and leaf surfaces was conducted to investigate how A. subplicata attaches to its host. Adhesive setae on the tarsi of adults may be effective for attachment on the older, smooth leaves and their tarsal claws are likely used to cling to trichomes of pubescent leaves. Larvaae have fleshy adhesive pads for attachment. Laboratory experiments on attachment of larvae and adults to smooth and pubescent leaves under various wind conditions showed that wind caused difficulty in attachment and movement, but leaf pubescence did not affect the number of beetles that fell off leaves. However, larvae fell off more quickly when placed on pubescent leaves. Thus, other factors such as nutritional quality and microclimate provided by trichomes may be responsible for the preference for pubescent leaves exhibited by A. subplicata.