Distribution of Megastigmus aculeatus (Hymenoptera: Torymidae) and the levels of seed predation of Rosa multiflora (Rosaceae).
Rosa multiflora Thunb. (Rosaceae), an invasive plant that currently infests millions of hectares in the eastern half of the USA, was planted initially in the 1940s as a "living fence", cover for game animals and for erosion control. The larvae of Megastigmus aculeatus var. nigroflavus Hoffmeyer (Hymenoptera: Torymidae) feed on the developing R. multiflora seeds and have the potential to reduce the seed output of R. multiflora. Rosehips were collected from 49 sites across eastern and southern Iowa, USA, to determine the presence and distribution of M. aculeatus, the larvae of which were found in 266 of the 979 (27%) rosehips that were dissected and at 31 of the 49 sites (63%) that were sampled. The levels of M. aculeatus infestation over 2-3 years were determined at three selected sites and it was documented that more seeds were aborted than were viable or contained wasp larvae. A negative relationship was observed between the numbers of both the aborted and the viable seeds and the probability of a rosehip being attacked by M. aculeatus, indicating that M. aculeatus females are not preferentially selecting rosehips with higher numbers of viable or aborted seeds for oviposition. There is a significant reduction in both the viable seeds and the aborted seeds in hips that have been attacked by M. aculeatus. Detailed knowledge of R. multiflora demography is necessary to determine the level of seed predation that is required to reduce the recruitment of new individuals into the population.