The redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus Eichhoff) is an invasive pest and vector of the pathogen that causes laurel wilt disease in Lauraceous tree species in the eastern United States. This insect uses olfactory cues during host finding, but use of visual cues by X. glabratus has not been previously investigated and may help explain diameter-related patterns in host tree mortality. The objective of this study was to determine whether X. glabratus females visually detect silhouettes of tree stems during host finding and are more likely to land on large diameter stems than smaller ones. Three field experiments were conducted in which stem silhouettes (black cylinders or standing nonhost pines) of varying diameters and identical capture surface areas were baited with essential oil lures. The Log10-transformed number of X. glabratus trapped per week increased as a function of silhouette diameter in 2011 and 2012, using artificial silhouette diameters ranging 2–18 and 3–41 cm, respectively. When lures and capture surfaces were attached to standing pines ranging 4–37 cm in diameter, a positive relationship between Log10(X. glabratus trap catch) and stem diameter was modeled using nonlinear quadratic plateau regression and indicated a diameter above which visual attraction was not enhanced; however, there was not a maximum diameter for enhanced X. glabratus attraction that was generally consistent across all experiments. These results 1) indicate that X. glabratus incorporates visual information during host finding, 2) help explain diameter-related patterns of redbay (Persea borbonia (L.) Sprengel) mortality observed during laurel wilt epidemics, and 3) are applicable to the management of this forest pest.
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