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Host use and crop impacts of Oribius Marshall species (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea

  • P. Wesis (a1), B. Niangu (a1), M. Ero (a2) (a3), R. Masamdu (a4), M. Autai (a5), D. Elmouttie (a3) and A. R. Clarke (a3)...

Abstract

Oribius species are small flightless weevils endemic to the island of New Guinea and far northern Cape York, Australia. The adults feed externally on leaves, developing fruit and green bark, but their impact as pests and general host use patterns are poorly known. Working in Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea, we carried out structured host use surveys, farmer surveys, shade-house growth trials and on-farm and on-station impact trials to: (i) estimate the host range of the local Oribius species; (ii) understand adult daily activity patterns; (iii) elucidate feeding habits of the soil dwelling larvae; and (iv) quantify the impacts of adult feeding damage. Oribius inimicus and O. destructor accounted for nearly all the Oribius species encountered locally, of these two O. inimicus was the most abundant. Weevils were collected from 31 of 33 plants surveyed in the Aiyura Valley, and a combination of farmer interviews and literature records provided evidence for the beetles being pestiferous on 43 crops currently or previously grown in the Highlands. Adult weevils had a distinct diurnal pattern of being in the upper plant canopy early in the morning and, to a lesser extent, again late in the afternoon. For the remainder of the day, beetles resided within the canopy, or possibly off the plant. Movement of adults between plants appeared frequent. Pot trials confirmed the larvae are root feeders. Quantified impact studies showed that the weevils are damaging to a range of vegetable and orchard crops (broccoli, capsicum, celery, French bean, Irish potato, lettuce, orange and strawberry), causing average yield losses of around 30–40%, but up to 100% on citrus. Oribius weevils pose a significant and, apparently, growing problem for Highland's agriculture.

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Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence Fax: +61 7 3138 1535 E-mail: a.clarke@qut.edu.au

References

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Bulletin of Entomological Research
  • ISSN: 0007-4853
  • EISSN: 1475-2670
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-entomological-research
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