The influence of flood plant quality on Megamelus scutellaris

Sven Tozer, Julie A. Coetzee - Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown

The quality of host plants has a direct influence on herbivore life history traits such as fecundity, body size and development.

Megamelus scutellaris is the latest arthropod to be released in South Africa for the biological control, of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).

Megamelus scutellaris expresses two wing phenotypes, a long winged form and a short winged form; the production of either wing form has both beneficial and negative aspects.

The trigger mechanism initiating the production of either wing form is not well understood, buy may include environmental stimuli such as host plant quality, nutrition, density, temperature and photoperiod.
The aim of this study is to determine the effect nutrition and the host plant quality on the fecundity of M. scutellaris.

The results of the study are important for the biological control of water hyacinth in South Africa because many South African water systems are highly eutrophic due to pollution and may affect the probability of M. scutellaris establishment in the field.

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