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Plant Sciences and Entomology


This study examined the performance of Poanes viator (Edwards) (Hesperiidae), a native North American skipper, and Rhizedra lutosa (Hübner) (Noctuidae), an introduced moth, reared on native and non-native, invasive lineages of Phragmites australis. Poanes viator is a generalist on monocots and larvae were also fed leaves of Zizania aquatica, a native macrophyte that the skipper commonly uses as a host plant. Larval survival and duration, pupal weight, and pupation time were compared for P. viator feeding on leaf tissue and R. lutosa feeding on rhizomes of either native or introduced plants. We also tested an artificial diet supplemented with P. australis rhizome powder as a potential food for rearing other stalk and rhizome boring Lepidoptera. In experiments using excised plant tissues, some individuals of both species fed and developed to the pupal stage on native and introduced plants, but overall, larval survival rates were low. Plant species/haplotype identity did not cause strong differences in larval survival for either species. However, P. viator larvae only pupated when feeding on native plants (Zizania aquatica and native P. australis haplotypes), whereas R. lutosa successfully pupated on both native and introduced P. australis. Although larval survival was low, 100% of P. viator and 95% of R. lutosa that reached the pupal stage emerged as adults. Rhizedra lutosa larvae fed an artificial diet supplemented with P. australis rhizome powder had significantly greater survival and pupal weights, and shorter pupation times than larvae fed rhizomes only. Several specialist Lepidopteran species are being considered for approval as biological control agents for the non-native P. australis haplotype, and the convenience and increased larval performance make this artificial diet a good alternative for rearing organisms.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.