A 2-yr (2014-2015) field study in eastern Washington State quantified the effect of environmental factors on the overwintered Eustenopus villosus (Boheman) and Larinus curtus (Hochhut) adults in relation to phenology of Centaurea solstitialis L. (Asteraceae: Cardueae), the feeding and breeding host for these two weevil biocontrol agents. We recorded in the study area: ambient and soil temperatures, soil moisture, percent cover and developmental stage of C. solstitialis, and presence of adults of each weevil species. Sampling took place from early May to mid-August. Weevil activity for both species in both years was segregated into three phases: 1 – a pre-appearance phase in which neither species was detected, 2 – appearance and increase in frequency, and 3 – decrease in frequency. Eustenopus villosus increase in frequency was most strongly associated with warming temperatures both years. Larinus curtus increase in frequency in 2014 was most associated with increasing C. solstitialis cover and in 2015 with warming temperatures and drying soils. In both years, both weevil species' decline in frequency was likely due to the advancing C. solstitialis phenology. This pattern indicates that the appearance and increase in frequency of the overwintered E. villosus and L. curtus adults was likely a function of warming temperatures. Both species' decline in frequency was likely a function of the weevils completing their life cycle in synchrony with the phenological advancement of C. solstitialis and decline of abundant breeding and foraging sites (buds and flowers).
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Vol. 46 • No. 2