Host plants influence female oviposition and larval performance in West Indian sweet potato weevils Euscepes postfasciatus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae).
Euscepes postfasciatus (Fairmaire) is an invasive pest of the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) and is also parasitic to other wild host plants of the Ipomoea genus. The population density of E. postfasciatus is sometimes greater in Ipomoea pes-caprae L. than in Ipomoea indica (Burm. f.). We investigated the desirability of I. pes-caprae as a host plant for E. postfasciatus in terms of reproductive and developmental potential. Females laid fewer eggs on I. pes-caprae, and the eclosion of their larvae was delayed compared with on I. indica. Furthermore, the larval growth rate was slower on I. pes-caprae than on I. indica. These results suggest that I. pes-caprae is not always the preferred host for egg laying and growth rate in the early developmental stages. However, the larval survival rate after the initial period of development was markedly better on I. pes-caprae than on I. indica. The present simulation study demonstrated that the population density of E. postfasciatus on I. pes-caprae overwhelmed that on I. indica over generations. Comparing the two wild host plant species, I. pes-caprae outweighs I. indica with respect to total population growth, but reproduction on I. indica may be advantageous for the colonization of the new habitat.