Evaluation of the impact of Eustenopus villosus on Centaurea solstitialis seed production in California.
The impact of the capitulum weevil Eustenopus villosus on Centaurea solstitialis seed production was examined at two field sites in central California. The study occurred in 1993-1995 during the early phases of the biological control program on C. solstitialis and before the current guild of capitulum insects had become widespread. Results showed that adult feeding on early flower buds resulted in 60-70% of buds failing to develop. Regrowth delayed capitulum production by 9 days and extended production by 4 weeks at season end. Between 69% and 92% of capitula were punctured from feeding or oviposition but the occurrence of larvae in capitula ranged from 27% to 49%. Seed production in C. solstitialis capitula increased linearly with size. The occurrence of larvae was proportionally higher in larger capitula (>8 mm) but the probability of attack for individual capitula did not vary with plant size. Total seed loss from larval feeding ranged from 34 to 47%. It is recommended that another survey be performed to determine if the level of infestation of E. villosus has increased since its initial introduction.