The phenology and ecology of Hibiscus pernambucensis Arruda and its interaction and importance in maintaining populations of the boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis Boheman, were studied over a period of 3 yr in the Soconusco Region of the state of Chiapas, Mexico. H. pernambucensis is a small tree of Neotropical distribution, restricted to lowland areas, and generally associated with halophytic vegetation. This species is found exclusively along the shores of brackish estuaries, in or near mangrove swamps in southeastern Mexico. In this region, H. pernambucensis has a highly seasonal flowering pattern in which the greatest bud production occurs shortly after the start of the rainy season in May and the highest fruit production occurs in July and August. Boll weevil larvae were found in buds of H. pernambucensis during all months but February and densities of buds and weevils were highest from May through September. The percentage of buds infested with boll weevil larvae rarely exceeded 30%. Because plant densities and reproductive output of H. pernambucensis is relatively low and, consequently, the number of oviposition and larval development sites for boll weevils is limited, the importance of this plant as a source of boll weevils with potential of attacking commercial cotton is minimal in comparison with the quantity produced in cultivated cotton. However, the plant could be important as a reservoir of boll weevils in areas of boll weevil quarantine and eradication programs. The factors and circumstances that may have led to this apparent recent host shift of the boll weevil in this region are discussed.
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Vol. 94 • No. 6