Herbivorous beetles of family Scolytidae are usually known to feed on plant seeds, trunks or roots and are considered to be agricultural pests in South America. The scolytid Spermophthorus apuleiae was formerly recorded to feed on seeds of Caesalpinia ferrea a Brazilian tree known as "pau-ferro". However, we found S. apuleiae feeding on fruits but not seeds of C. ferrea. In Brazil, concurrence of S. Apuleiae and C. ferrea were observed in Sao Paulo State where these trees occur sub-spontaneously. In Espirito Santo State, the only known locality where C. ferrea occur naturally, S. apuleiae was not detected, since there are a few reminiscent old trees which have not been fruitful for years. Fruits of C. ferrea infested by S. apuleiae were collected and have been maintained in laboratory. Larvae and adults kept on their original fruits reared from fruit mesocarp and exocarp but not from the seeds. Adults were also able to bore holes and tunnels in new fruits. Following, oviposition occurred inside fruits and the larvae completed development to adults. Adults exposed to seeds as the only source of food were not able to feed and died. Apparently, S. apuleiae bore galleries in fruit tissues without injuring the seeds. Owing to these tunnels, fruits become more permeable to water which could favor the exposition of seeds to humidity and suitable germination conditions. Differently from other Caesalpiniaceae, fruits of C. ferrea are not dehiscent, so that this sort of herbivory could help the dispersion of the seeds.
Species 1: Coleoptera Scolytidae Spermophthorus apuleiae
Keywords: herbivory, seed dispersion
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