Daylength and humidity as environmental cues for diapause termination in a tropical beetle


Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University, 1735 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210, U.S.A


ABSTRACT. Photoperiod is the primary factor controlling termination of adult diapause in the fungus beetle, Stenotarsus rotundus Arrow (Endomychidae: Coleoptera), in a tropical lowland forest. at 9d̀ N. An LD 13:11 h cycle stimulated rapid development of the gonads and flight muscles in both sexes: development was eventually initiated in an LD 12:12 h cycle but was slower. Beetles showed a graded response to intermediate photoperiods. Males consistently initiated gonad development earlier than females, but both sexes developed flight muscles at the same time.

Moisture also influences development: oocytes and flight muscles developed more rapidly at high humidity than at the naturally prevailing low humidity during the dry season. Testis development was less influenced by humidity.

In the field, male gonad development began in late January, suggesting that the beetle can perceive an extremely slight increase in daylength. Ovaries did not contain any visible oocytes before March, but oocyte development was apparent in all females by April. Egg maturation was completed after dispersal from the aggregation site. Females have larger corpora allata than males. These glands increased in size in March when oocyte and/or flight muscle development was initiated. The timing of full development of flight muscles varied slightly from year to year.

Thus, the increase in daylength occurring during the dry season appears to be the cue primarily responsible for development of the reproductive systems and flight muscles. High humidity enhances this response and further prepares the beetles for an active reproductive period at the onset of the wet season.