Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit (Fabaceae) was introduced to Ethiopia in the early 1980s. Even though this plant is not yet problematic, nor categorized as an invasive species in the country, there are several reports that place leucaena as an extremely damaging weed elsewhere, raising warning signs regarding the potential impacts of the plant in Ethiopia. The objective of this study was to make a preliminary assessment of the impact of a pre-dispersal seed feeding bruchid associated with L. leucocephala and determine its impacts on seed germination in Ethiopia. The study demonstrated that the bruchid Acanthoscelides macrophthalmus (Schaeffer) (Chrysomelidae) was present at all sites surveyed and damaged up to 44 % of seeds of L. leucocephala at the study sites. Damaged seeds showed reduced germination performance resulting in seedlings with weak, yellow and fragile root systems compared to healthy seeds. This is the first report on the presence of A. macrophthalmus in Ethiopia. Therefore, future studies need to focus on the level of infestations of the plant and the impacts of the plant across the country.
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Vol. 23 • No. 2