An insect species' geographic distribution is probably delimited in part by physiological tolerances of environmental temperatures. Gloomy scale (Melanaspis tenebricosa (Comstock)) is a native insect herbivore in eastern U.S. forests. In eastern U.S. cities, where temperatures are warmer than nearby natural areas, M. tenebricosa is a primary pest of red maple (Acer rubrum L.; Sapindales: Sapindaceae) With warming, M. tenebricosa may spread to new cities or become pestilent in forests. To better understand current and future M. tenebricosa distribution boundaries, we examined M. tenebricosa thermal tolerance under laboratory conditions. We selected five hot and five cold experimental temperatures representative of locations in the known M. tenebricosa distribution. We built models to predict scale mortality based on duration of exposure to warm or cold experimental temperatures. We then used these models to estimate upper and lower lethal durations, i.e., temperature exposure durations that result in 50% mortality. We tested the thermal tolerance for M. tenebricosa populations from northern, mid, and southern locations of the species' known distribution. Scales were more heat and cold tolerant of temperatures representative of the midlatitudes of their distribution where their densities are the greatest. Moreover, the scale population from the northern distribution boundary could tolerate cold temperatures from the northern boundary for twice as long as the population collected near the southern boundary. Our results suggest that as the climate warms the M. tenebricosa distribution may expand poleward, but experience a contraction at its southern boundary.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1