Reproductive plasticity of an invasive insect pest, rice water weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae).
Reproductive plasticity is a key determinant of species invasiveness. However, there are a limited number of studies addressing this issue in exotic insects. The rice water weevil Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus Kuschel (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), which is native to North America, is one of the most invasive insect pests in east Asia. In this study, we investigated the reproductive status of first-generation females (progeny of overwintered weevils) from five geographic regions in southern and northern China in the field, and reproductive status and ovipositional features of females provided with suitable host plants in the laboratory after collection. Under field conditions, a proportion of females oviposited, while the rest remained in diapause from all three southern regions investigated, but reproductive development did not take place in females from the two northern regions, where the weevil produces only one generation per year. However, when fed host plants in the laboratory, females from all regions laid eggs. They typically had a very short ovipositional period (3-6 d on average on rice at a temperature of 27°C), laid a low number of eggs, and did not die soon after oviposition; this was different from common reproductive females. We concluded that first-generation L. oryzophilus females, which largely enter diapause after emergence, are highly plastic in their reproductive performance and are ready to reproduce under favorable conditions. Our results indicate the significance of their reproductive plasticity for geographic spread and population development.