Predictions of phenological development for insect biological control agents may facilitate post-release monitoring efforts by allowing land managers to optimize the timing of monitoring activities. A logistic thermal time model was tested to predict phenology of immature stem-mining weevils, Hadroplontus litura F. (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a biological control agent for Canada thistle, Cirsium arvense L. (Asterales: Asteraceae). Weevil eggs and larvae were collected weekly from Canada thistle stems in eastern North Dakota from May through July during 2010 and 2011. Head capsule widths of sampled larvae were measured at the widest point and plotted on a frequency histogram to establish ranges of head capsule widths associated with each instar.We found head capsule width ranges for first-, second-, and third-instar H. litura larvae were 165–324 µm, 346–490µmm, and 506–736 µm, respectively. Logistic regression models were developed to estimate the proportions of H. litura eggs, first-, and second-instar larvae in the weevil population as a function of thermal time. Model estimates of median development time for eggs, first instars, and second instars ranged from 219 ± 23 degree-days (DD) to 255 ± 27 DD, 556 ± 77 DD to 595 ± 81 DD, and 595 ± 109 DD to 653 ± 108 DD, respectively. Based on model validation statistics, model estimates for development timing were the most accurate for eggs and first instars and somewhat less accurate for second instars. These model predictions will help biological control practitioners obtain more accurate estimates of weevil population densities during postrelease monitoring.
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