Do alien plants escape from natural enemies of congeneric residents? Yes but not from all.
As predicted by the enemy release hypothesis, plants are supposedly less attacked by herbivores in their introduced range than in their native range. However, the nature of the natural enemies, in particular their degree of specificity may also affect the level of enemy escape. It is therefore expected that ectophagous invertebrate species, being generally considered as more generalists than endophagous species, are more prompt to colonise alien plants. In Swiss, Siberian and Russian Far East arboreta, we tested whether alien woody plants are less attacked by native herbivorous insects than native congeneric woody plant species. We also tested the hypothesis that leaf miners and gall makers show stronger preference for native woody plants than external leaf chewers. In all investigated regions, leaf miners and gall makers were more abundant and showed higher species richness on native woody plants than on congeneric alien plants. In contrast, external leaf chewers did not cause more damage to native plants than to alien plants, possibly because leaf chewers are, in general, less species specific than leaf miners and gall makers. These results, obtained over a very large number of plant-enemy systems, generally support the hypothesis that alien plants partly escape from phytophagous invertebrates but also show that different feeding guilds may react differently to the introduction of alien plants.