Brontispa longissima (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) is a serious pest of coconut palm, and the species contains two cryptic species: the “Asian clade” is distributed over a wide area, including Asia and the Pacific region, whereas the “Pacific clade” is distributed in a limited area. Recent invasions and outbreaks have only been reported for the Asian clade, suggesting that invasive ability may differ between the clades. To reveal differences in invasiveness, we investigated the damage potential on coconut palm and range expansion of the two clades in Timor-Leste, where both clades are present. Distribution of the clades and of severely damaged trees indicated that range expansion and outbreaks have occurred for the Asian clade but not for the Pacific clade. The Asian clade attacked trees taller than 10 m, whereas the Pacific clade seldom attacked these trees. The preference for the taller trees, which are more abundant, can facilitate range expansion and outbreaks of the Asian clade. The beetle has spread through areas where coconut palms are continuously available, but have not expanded their distribution where coconut palms are separated by large gaps. This indicates that areas free of coconut palm could serve as buffer zones to prevent spread of this beetle.
!!!All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes