I studied interactions between the herbaceous weed Solanum carolinense (horsenettle) and its herbivore community in northern Virginia from 1996–2002. Thirty-two species regularly fed on the plant, including 31 insects from 6 taxonomic orders and Microtus pennsylvanicus (meadow vole). An intensive field experiment on 960 horsenettle individuals in 2001 revealed high levels of damage to all parts of the plants. Two chrysomelid beetles—Epitrix fuscula (eggplant flea beetle) and Leptinotarsa juncta (false potato beetle)—damaged leaves on nearly every plant. Roughly half of the flowers were destroyed by herbivores, with Anthonomus nigrinus (potato bud weevil) destroying 30%. Nearly three-fourths of the fruits were damaged by three species: the tephritid fly Zonosemata electa (pepper maggot), false potato beetle, and meadow vole. The weevil Trichobaris trinotata (potato stalk borer) bored in stems of 73% of the plants, and the most damaging root feeder was the moth Synanthedon rileyana (Riley's clearwing). A literature review on the horsenettle-herbivore community is integrated with new observations as a guide for applied and basic research on this economically significant species.
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