Response to short-term cold storage for eggs of agasicles hygrophila (coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), a biological control agent of alligator weed alternanthera philoxeroides (caryophyllales: Amaranthaceae)
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The alligator weed flea beetle, Agasicles hygrophila Selman & Vogt (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) has been used very successfully for the biological control of the widely-distributed invasive weed Alternanthera philoxeroides (Mart.) Griseb (Caryophyllales: Amaranthaceae). In order to extend the 'shelf life' of natural enemies released in biological control programs, cold storage has proven to be a valuable commercial procedure. To determine a suitable low temperature for storage of A. hygrophila, we conducted short-term cold storage treatments of eggs (4°C for 0.5, 1, 2, 5 d, and 7.5, 10, 15°C for 5 d and a control of 25°C; all eggs were returned to 25°C after the treatments). We evaluated the effects of these treatments on the subsequent fitness of the populations based on a demographic analysis using group-reared age-stage two-sex life tables. For 5 d storage, temperatures below 10°C had lethal effects, which were also observed at 4°C for 2 d storage. Storage at 4°C for 0.5 d did not affect the fitness of A. hygrophila, but it did not prolong the developmental time. Storage at 10°C for 5 d significantly decreased rates of population increase compared with 25°C. A. hygrophila stored at 15°C for 5 d had similar age-(stage) specific survival rates, rates of population increase, increased longevity and reproductive capability to the controls at 25°C. It is concluded that there were no significant fitness costs after 5 d storage at 15°C, which is therefore potentially a suitable storage temperature for A. hygrophila eggs. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America.