Outbreak of an invasive paropsine beetle in south-west Ireland: preference, performance and damage to Eucalyptus


Finbarr G. Horgan (corresponding author), Crop and Environmental Sciences Division, International Rice Research Institute, DAPO Box 7777, Metro Manila, Philippines.
E-mail: f.horgan@cgiar.org


An exotic, paropsine beetle –Paropsisterna nr. gloriosa Blackburn – occurred at high densities in south-west Ireland in 2007. In bioassays, adults and larvae fed on foliage from a variety of eucalypt species. Eggs and neonates occurred only in association with new foliage. Despite their ability to consume old foliage, adult beetles had a high preference for new leaves with low specific leaf weights (softer leaves). In choice tests, adults that depleted new foliage of their preferred host, moved to new foliage of a second host but not older foliage of the preferred host. A 2008 survey of southern Ireland indicated that P. nr. gloriosa was restricted to County Kerry, largely associated with foliage plantations in that county. The distribution of damage suggests that the initial spread of the beetle was facilitated by foliage-trade activities. Eucalyptus parvula L.A.S. Johnson & K.D. Hill was the most heavily damaged species at many plantations. Eucalyptus pulverulenta Sims and Eucalyptus cordata Labill. were highly resistant to the beetle as indicated by low levels of damage in the field and reduced fitness of larvae in feeding trials. Nevertheless, at the plantation with the highest overall levels of damage, adult beetles moved to feed on E. pulverulenta. A progressive dispersal from plantations also caused slight damage to neighbouring ornamental eucalypts. Clear preferences by P. nr. gloriosa for new foliage, irrespective of eucalypt species, suggests that pollarding – the removal of top branches to produce dense juvenile foliage – accelerated population build-up during 2007.