Stage specific feeding attributes and mobilization of nutrients in Mexican beetle, Zygogramma bicolorata Pallister on Parthenium hysterophorus L.
Parthenium hysterophorus L. (Asteraceae) is a toxic weed of agricultural farms, pastures and wastelands with a pan-tropical distribution. The weed causes a reduction in crop production of agricultural fields and severe health problems in humans. The Mexican beetle, Zygogramma bicolorata Pallister (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) is among the most promising candidates for the weed biocontrol. However, no previous study has evaluated assimilation of nutrients in this beetle. In the present study, feeding attributes and assimilation of nutrients by larvae of Z. bicolorata were assessed on the weed. Results revealed that the first larval instars of Z. bicolorata exhibited lowest consumption rates, and accumulated minimum concentrations of glucose, proteins and triglycerides in their body. They showed compensatory feeding, and displayed highest food utilization efficiencies and developmental rates. In contrast, the fourth larval instars exhibited higher food consumption rates and conversion efficiencies, but displayed lowest developmental rates. Accumulation of food reserves was also recorded maximum for the fourth larval instars. Overall, the findings may aid current mass-rearing efforts for Z. bicolorata in laboratories, but field trials are still needed to strengthen the present findings.