The coconut hispine beetle, Brontispa longissima, is a serious invasive pest of coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region. Recently, however, it has been reported that on Ishigaki Island, Japan, where C. nucifera is rare, the endemic palm Satakentia liukiuensis serves as a regular host. To explore this phenomenon, we examined the preferences of the beetle for the two palm hosts by choice tests and measurements of feeding amount using four different groups: naïve adults obtained from a colony reared on C. nucifera (NC); naïve adults from a colony reared on S. liukiuensis (NS); wild adults collected on C. nucifera on Ishigaki Island (WC); and wild adults collected on S. liukiuensis on Ishigaki Island (WS). Both NC and NS consumed significantly more C. nucifera leaves than S. liukiuensis leaves and were observed more often on the leaves of C. nucifera. These results suggest that B. longissima has an innate preference for C. nucifera. In contrast, field-collected adults (WC, WS) initially showed preferences for the species on which they were collected, but after exposure to the other host plant for 2weeks, their preferences for that host increased. These results suggest that the feeding experience of B. longissima adults affected their subsequent host preferences. This flexible host preference may have facilitated the beetle's successful establishment in novel Japanese habitats where the original host plant was rare.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science
- Agronomy and Crop Science