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Spatio-temporal abundance of flushing leaves shapes host selection in the willow leaf beetle, Plagiodera versicolora


*Correspondence: Sawako Egusa, Laboratory of Insect Ecology, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan. E-mail:


In the willow leaf beetle, Plagiodera versicolora (Laicharting) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), food resources available for adults are severely restricted by leaf toughness, which increases with age. Nevertheless, females require their own food almost all their life in order to produce eggs. In this paper, we have focused our attention on the spatio-temporal abundance of flushing leaves and have examined its effect on host-plant selection by adults among four co-occurring willow species (Salix chaenomeloides, Salix eriocarpa, Salix integra, and Salix serissaefolia) (Salicaceae) by field observations and experiments at two spatial scales. Among the various factors associated with this, the amount of new leaf production contributed maximally to variation in adult abundance. By conducting two experiments, we confirmed that the adults preferentially flew towards willow trees with abundant flushing leaves. Furthermore, we detected substantial seasonal changes in new leaf abundance and realized fecundity in the field, and a strong positive correlation was observed between them. Availability of adult food resources limited the reproductive performance of adults, particularly in mid-summer when only S. serissaefolia produced a few new leaves. These results supported the substantial effect of new leaf abundance on adult abundance in the field. Thus, we concluded that adult feeding is a critical factor that shapes the host-plant selection of P. versicolora and determines its seasonal occurrence through the dispersal and settlement of adults.