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Keywords:

  • Sitona spp.;
  • feeding preferences;
  • legumes;
  • white clover;
  • Trifolium repens

Abstract

A series of laboratory and field studies were done to evaluate a range of leguminous plant species for their feeding potential by adult weevils of the genus Sitona Germar. (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Three species of Sitona, S. lineatus L., S. flavescens Marsh. and S. hispidulus F. all of which are found commonly on white clover (Trifolium repens L.) in the UK were offered a range of 11 legume species, T. repens (white clover, cv. Olwen), T. pratense L. (red clover, cv. Marcom), T. fragiferum L. (strawberry clover, cv. Palestine), T. hybridum L. (hybrid clover, cv. Tetra), T. incarnatum L (crimson clover), T. dubium Sibth. (lesser yellow trefoil), Lotus corniculatus L. (birdsfoot-trefoil, cv. Leo), L. uliginosus Schkuhr. (large birdsfoot-trefoil), Melilotus alba Desr. (white melilot), Medicago sativa L. (lucerne, cv. Europe) and M. lupulina L. (black medick) in two laboratory experiments. The weevils were offered a choice of these legumes in one experiment whilst in the other they did not have a choice of food material. These legumes were also sown in the field and a number of measurements of damage, together with counts of Sitona spp., were made. In the laboratory S. lineatus and S. hispidulus favoured some of the legumes to a greater or lesser extent than white clover. S. flavescens was more restricted in its feeding than the other two weevil species. In the field study S. lineatus invaded the experimental area quickly and tended to favour Medicago spp. and Melilotus spp. Later in the year S. flavescens dominated the sitona fauna on the experiment, with the exception of aggregations of S. lineatus on M. sativa and M. alba. In a separate screen of 5 varieties of white clover (cvs Donna, Menna, Kersey, Olwen and Grasslands Huia), cv. Olwen appeared to be the most susceptible to sitona attack.