Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A tumbling flower beetle attracted to sweet birch oil (methyl salicylate)

Claire E. Rutledge, Claire.Rutledge@po.state.ct.us, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Department of Entomology, 123 Huntington Street, P.O. Box 1106, New Haven, CT and Daniel K. Young, young@entomology.wisc.edu, University of Wisconsin, Entomology, 445 Russell Labs, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, WI.

In 2004 and 2005, large numbers of a single species of tumbling flower beetle were found in traps baited with sweet birch oil, while significantly fewer individuals were found on control traps. In both years peak captures were at 1500 DD. Trapping was conducted in Naugatuck State Forest in Naugatuck CT. Little is known about the ecology and biology of the tumbling flower beetles (Coleoptera: Mordellidae) in general, and even the larval host plant for this species is not known. Thus we cannot say why the beetle is attracted to sweet birch oil. Sweet birch oil is approximately 98% methyl salicylate (MS). MS is found constitutively in large quantities in some plants, but it is also an important signal in, and product of plant stress-response pathways. MS has been found to attract both herbivores that require stressed plants as hosts, and their natural enemies. As far as we know, this is the first report of a mass trapping of a tumbling flower beetle.

Species 1: Coleoptera Mordellidae