Understanding the behavioral basis of dispersal and colonization is critical in biological control systems, where success of a natural enemy depends in part on its ability to find and move to new host patches. We studied behavior of the specialist weevil Rhinoncomimus latipes Korotyaev, a biological control agent of mile-a-minute weed, Persicaria perfoliata (L.) H. Gross, by releasing weevils at the forest edge and monitoring their colonization of potted host plants arrayed along the edge, out into the open field, and into the forest. Both distance from the release cage and habitat where plants were located affected colonization, with more than twice as many weevils found on plants at 2 m than at 6 or 14 m; at 14 m, 6–8 times as many weevils colonized plants along the forest edge compared with plants in the open field or within the forest. In a second experiment, weevils that were released in an open field 12 m from the forest edge initially flew in all directions, but again ultimately colonized more plants at the edge than out in the open field. This species may be adapted to seek host plants at the forest edge, because P. perfoliata generally is found in riparian corridors in its native range and along forest edges in North America. Results suggest that R. latipes will move successfully to new P. perfoliata patches along wooded edges, but may not readily locate isolated patches in the open or those embedded in forests.
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Vol. 41 • No. 6