• frost;
  • geographical differences;
  • invasive species;
  • local adaptation;
  • species range;
  • Coleoptera;
  • Chrysomelidae


Insects' cold tolerance during their development is a surprisingly understudied subject in ecology, despite the fact that subzero temperatures during the growing season are common at high altitudes and latitudes. Subzero temperatures can have detrimental effects on organisms, restricting a species’ range. This study addresses the question whether night frosts during the growing season have an instant or delayed negative impact on larval mortality of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). We also tested whether populations from the centre (Poland) and margins (Russia) of the distribution range of L. decemlineata differ in their responses to subzero exposure and a low rearing temperature. Larvae of three ages were subjected to a subzero temperature (−4 °C for 3 h simulating night frost) twice, after which they were reared on a fluctuating temperature regime of 10–15 °C. These rearing conditions imitated cool summer temperatures beyond the beetles’ current range, such as in Finland. Individuals of both populations were highly cold tolerant, as only 3.1% of larvae died immediately following the subzero treatment. Nonetheless, the low rearing temperature was harmful to beetles of both populations. It caused high larval (ca. 90%) and overwintering (ca. 80%) mortality. As beetle performance was affected solely by rearing temperature, low temperatures during the growing season rather than night frosts apparently retard the beetle’s northern expansion.