Abstract 1 The influence of soil type and microtopography on above and below ground feeding by adult pine weevils Hylobius abietis (L.) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) was evaluated in a field experiment with enclosed weevil populations of known size.
2 Four soil treatments, each with a food source at the centre, were presented within each enclosure: (i) a flat surface with fine-grained, cultivated humus; (ii) a flat surface with sand; (iii) a conical mound of sand; and (iv) a conical pit in sand. The food source consisted of a stem section of Scots pine Pinus sylvestris L. extending both above and below ground.
3 The majority of feeding on the half buried stem sections occurred below ground; only 2.7% of the total bark area consumed was situated above ground. The variation over time in bark area consumed was not significantly associated with any of the tested weather factors.
4 The amount of feeding was 10-fold higher on food sources placed in fine-grained humus than those in areas of flat sand.
5 Less pine bark was consumed on mounds of sand than flat sand surfaces, and there was more feeding in sandy pits than on flat sand. These effects on feeding are explained by the observation that the weevils had difficulties climbing the sandy slopes (27° gradient).
6 We conclude that pine weevil damage to conifer seedlings can be considerably reduced by planting on mounds of pure mineral soil and that planting deeply in the soil increases the risk of damage.