Ecological data is crucial for determining the degree of reproductive isolation among closely related species, and in identifying the factors that have produced this divergence. We studied life history traits for three Asphondylia (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) species that induce fruit galls either on Alpinia, Ligustrum or Aucuba, and we compared the traits with those published for three other closely related Japanese Asphondylia species. We found that the six species were significantly differentiated in important life history traits, such as host range, voltinism, lower developmental threshold temperature, thermal constant and diapausing season. The data indicate that divergence in the assessed life history traits evolves before morphological divergence, and such ecological divergence could strengthen isolating barriers among the taxa. We present scenarios on how host range expansion, host plant shift and host organ shift for galling initiate the early stages of speciation. We also highlight the importance of ecological data in identifying cryptic species. Specifically, we confirm that Alpinia intermedia (Zingiberaceae) is not an autumn–spring host of the soybean pod gall midge Asphondylia yushimai based on many differences in the life history traits between the Alpinia fruit gall midge Asphondylia sp. and A. yushimai.
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