Phenology and abundance of northern tamarisk beetle, Diorhabda carinulata affecting defoliation of Tamarix.
Timing and spatial dynamics of tamarisk (Tamarix spp. L.) defoliation by the biological control agent Diorhabda carinulata (Desbrochers) were evaluated. Relative abundance of D. carinulata and the phenology of tamarisk along the San Juan and Colorado rivers were recorded in 2011-2012. D. carinulata began reproducing in the spring when temperatures were >15°C. Variation in spring temperature-rise affected the timing of development of larvae of the first summer generation and initial defoliation of tamarisk at each site. Shortening day lengths in mid- to late-summer cued D. carinulata to enter reproductive diapause resulting in cessation of defoliation. The critical day length for inducing reproductive diapause was 33-47 minutes shorter than that of populations of D. carinulata released into North America in 2001. Variation in spring temperature-rise combined with timing of shortening day length resulted in differences in D. carinulata voltinism per site. During the active season, larvae were less likely to establish in areas where defoliation was >70%. Lack of reestablishment of larvae led to temporary loss of D. carinulata from the locations and allowed tamarisks to sprout new canopies. Defoliation of tamarisk was dictated by environmental cues and abundance of D. carinulata, and in turn large amounts of defoliation negatively affected abundance of D. carinulata.