Suzanne Blatt, Rosemarie De Clerck-Floate, Scott N. White
Invasive Plant Science and Management 15 (1), 9-15, (10 March 2022) https://doi.org/10.1017/inp.2022.6
KEYWORDS: biocontrol agent establishment, plant emergence model, soil moisture, yellow toadflax
Yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris Mill.; Scrophulariaceae) is an invasive herbaceous perennial weed of agricultural and natural habitats throughout North America. In pastures or native rangelands, use of biological control is an attractive option, particularly if the agent can be established quickly. Rhinusa pilosa (Gyllenhal) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a stem-galling weevil, was first released in Canada in 2014 to evaluate its potential to control L. vulgaris. Rhinusa pilosa requires young, vigorously growing shoots to establish. Ability to estimate when adequate shoots will be available could inform release timing, thus improving establishment success. There is currently no growing degree-day (GDD) model for L. vulgaris. Our main objective was to develop a GDD model for the emergence of L. vulgaris shoots and discuss the utility of such a model in relation to the establishment of R. pilosa in Nova Scotia. Four sites containing five randomly placed 1-m2 quadrats were monitored for the emergence of L. vulgaris shoots twice weekly in spring to summer 2017 and 2018 by recording number of shoots and shoots with flower buds. A GDD (Tbase 2 C) model for shoot emergence of L. vulgaris was developed and validated using independent shoot emergence data. Shoots emerged in the spring between 124 and 244 GDD with 90% of all shoots emerged between 681 and 1,117 GDD. Model estimation for the initiation of shoot emergence was 74 GDD, with 10%, 50%, and 90% shoot emergence estimated to occur at 179, 409, and 811 GDD, respectively. Rhinusa pilosa adults were released in 2016 (three sites) and 2017 (one site), and number of shoots with galls was recorded. Galls were observed in all three sites in 2016 and in three of the four sites in 2017, with none found in 2018. Timing of release and soil moisture are discussed as factors affecting establishment of R. pilosa in Nova Scotia.