An open-field test was conducted in southern France to assess the host-specificity of Ceratapion basicorne (Illiger), a candidate for biological control of yellow starthistle. Test plants were infested by naturally occurring populations of C. basicorne but were also exposed to sympatric herbivore species, including other Ceratapion spp. Insects from the test plants were collected directly into tubes of ethanol and were subsequently identified to species according to DNA sequence similarity with morphologically identified reference specimens. This integrated, morphological and molecular identification method was used in an effort to maximize the amount of data gained in the field bioassay and to minimize the number of taxonomist–hours necessary to complete the study. The results obtained showed that the French C. basicorne population only attacked yellow starthistle and cornflower, another known host of C. basicorne. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of the insects collected from all other nonhost plants rejected the possibility that any were C. basicorne.
Nomenclature: Cornflower, Centaurea cyanus L. CENCY; yellow starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis L. CENSO; Ceratapion basicorne (Illiger)