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Growth and Phenology of Three Lythraceae Species in Relation to Feeding by Galerucella calmariensis and Galerucella pusilla: Predicting Ecological Host Range from Laboratory Host Range Testing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Elizabeth J. Stamm Katovich*
Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55112
Roger L. Becker
Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55112
David W. Ragsdale
Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55112
Luke C. Skinner
Invasive Species Unit, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, MN 55155
Corresponding author's E-mail:


Previous studies have characterized the development of the biological control insects, Galerucella calmariensis and Galerucella pusilla on purple loosestrife and on nontarget Lythraceae species, including two species native to Minnesota, winged loosestrife, and swamp loosestrife. The impact of Galerucella spp. on these plants, when grown in outdoor mesocosms that more closely mimics ecological host range, has not been reported. The first objective of this study was to compare the growth and seed capsule production of purple loosestrife, winged loosestrife, and swamp loosestrife, with and without exposure to Galerucella spp. With purple loosestrife, larval feeding on apical and lateral shoot buds resulted in fewer seed capsules, and reduced aboveground biomass and plant height compared to control plants. No measured plant growth or reproductive parameters were reduced as a result of beetle feeding on swamp loosestrife. Presence of Galerucella spp. on winged loosestrife resulted in a reduction of seed capsules in one of 2 yr of study. A second objective of our study was to compare the phenology of the three Lythraceae species in relation to that of Galerucella spp. In the northern United States, flowering and seed development in swamp loosestrife occurred a month later than in purple or winged loosestrife. The delayed flowering of swamp loosestrife resulted in avoidance of shoot meristem feeding damage caused by the first generation of beetles. Laboratory studies might have overestimated the host range of Galerucella spp. on swamp loosestrife with the finding of asynchronous flowering times of purple and swamp loosestrife. Our mesocosm studies confirm that previous laboratory host range testing did accurately predict the ecological host range of winged loosestrife.

Research Articles
Copyright © Weed Science Society of America 

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