Characterizing the host specificity of Ischnodemus variegatus (Signoret) (Hemiptera: Blissidae) on two congeneric grass species.
Life history parameters of the sap-feeding bug Ischnodemus variegatus (Signoret) (Hemiptera: Blissidae) were compared between the invasive Neotropical grass, Hymenachne amplexicaulis (Rudge) Nees and the Australian native Hymenachne acutigluma (Steudel) Guilliland. Development of immatures, adult longevity, ovipositional preference and population growth of I. variegatus were compared on H. amplexicaulis and H. acutigluma under choice and no-choice conditions. Third-instar nymphs developed on both hosts but individuals reared on H. acutigluma had a 40% lower survival rate to the adult stage, 40% longer developmental time, a 9% reduction in length and a 30% reduction in weight of females compared to those reared on H. amplexicaulis. The no-choice adult longevity and oviposition study indicated that individuals feeding on H. acutigluma had half the lifespan, 62% as many ovipositing females, 52% longer time to first oviposition and only 14% as many eggs per female. Under choice conditions, females laid only 37% as many eggs on H. acutigluma as on H. amplexicaulis. Population growth of I. variegatus was slower on H. acutigluma compared to H. amplexicaulis over a 60 day period resulting in negative population increase on H. acutigluma but positive increase on H. amplexicaulis. These results reflect an overall poorer performance of I. variegatus on H. acutigluma for most life stages.