Influence of the larval environment on performance and adult body size of the wood-boring beetle Phoracantha semipunctata

L. M. Hanks, T. D. Paine, J. G. Millar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Large body size confers a reproductive advantage to adults of the wood-boring beetle Phoracantha semipunctata (F.) (Cerambycidae: Cerambycinae: Phoracanthini). Larvae of this species feed subcortically in stressed and dying eucalypt trees and logs. We evaluated the influence of the larval environment on larval performance and adult body size by manipulating the post-felling age of host logs (from freshly cut to 2-weeks-old) and the density of colonizing neonates (low density with minimal competition for resources vs. high density with intense competition). Adult beetles emerged in greater numbers from logs that had been subjected to the aging treatment which reduced bark moisture content and favored colonization by neonates. Survival was greatest in larger logs having lower densities of neonates, but was greatly diminished in all treatments by mortality during pupation. Development time varied from 2 months to more than a year and was shortest in smaller logs having high densities of larvae. The size of adult beetles emerging from a log was not influenced by larval density, but was positively correlated with the age of logs when the neonates colonized, and log size. These findings suggest that the optimal developmental conditions for P. semipunctata larvae, in terms of larval performance and adult body size, are available in large, aged host logs having low densities of larvae. Manipulation of the larval environment in this study resulted in a considerable variation in adult body size, but large individuals were relatively more common in the wild population that was the source of neonates for the experiment. Potential body size may have been constrained by our use of only one host species and a narrow range of log dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Cannibalism
  • Cerambycidae
  • Coleoptera
  • Developmental rate
  • Eucalyptus
  • Intraspecific competition
  • Longhorned beetle
  • Plant-insect interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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