Tamarisk leaf beetles, Diorhabda spp., have been released in the western United States as a biological control agent for the invasive weed Tamarix spp. There have been a few studies on the life cycle, host preferences, and field observations of Diorhabda; however, their ecophysiological characteristics under various temperature regimes are not clearly understood. In this study, life history characteristics such as growth, fecundity, and mortality of Diorhabda carinulata (Desbrochers), the species established in the Colorado River basin, were investigated under various temperatures. Beetles were housed at various temperatures (room, constant high, and variable high) and their life cycle from eggs to reproductive adult was observed. Body size at various larval and adult stages, as well as their developmental time decreased with increasing temperature. Between the two temperature treatments, beetles at diurnally fluctuating temperature (variable high treatment) grew slower and produced fewer eggs per clutch when compared with the constant high treatment. Despite smaller in size, beetles grew fastest at the constant high temperature and produced most eggs per clutch compared with the other two treatments. Overall, severely high temperatures seem to have a debilitating effect on Diorhabda at early larval stages with nearly 50% mortality. The study has potential implications for the tamarisk beetle biocontrol program in the southwestern United States.
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Vol. 42 • No. 3