Thomas K. Sabu, K.V. Vinod
Journal of Insect Science 9 (56), 1-10, (1 July 2009) https://doi.org/10.1673/031.009.5601
KEYWORDS: Mupli beetles, aggregation, Hevea brasiliensis RRII 105
The population dynamics of the rubber plantation litter beetle, Luprops tristis Fabricius 1801 (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) was assessed in relation to the phenology of leaf shedding and defoliation pattern of para rubber trees, Hevea brasiliensis Müll. Arg (Malpighiales: Euphorbiaceae), during a two year study period. The abundance of adults, larvae and pupae per 1m2 of litter sample was recorded. Post dormancy beetles appeared in leaf litter following annual leaf shedding, whereas larvae, pupae and teneral adults were present after leaf flush. No stages were recorded from plantations following the summer rains until the annual litter fall in the next season. Parental adults peaked at the time of leaf sprouting and tender leaf fall. Larvae and teneral adults peaked at the time of premature fall of green leaves and flowers. Teneral adults of six age classes were recorded and all entered dormancy irrespective of the feeding time available to each age class. Females outnumbered males in the parent generation, while the sex ratio of new generation adults was not biased towards either sex. The phenological stages of rubber trees included leaf fall in late December and early January, leaf sprouting and new leaf production in January and flowering in February. All feeding stages of L. tristis peaked in abundance when premature leaves are most abundant in the leaf litter. Prediction of the timing of appearance of various developmental stages of L. tristis in plantations, invasion into buildings and intensity of population build up in rubber belts is possible by tracking the phenology of leaf fall in rubber plantations, time of return of post dormancy adults and the onset of summer rainfall. Perfect synchrony was recorded between the field return of parental adults with annual leaf shedding, the oviposition phase of parental adults with tender leaf fall at the time of leaf sprouting, and larval and teneral adult stages with premature fall of leaves. Premature leaf availability is suggested as contributing to the reproductive efficiency of parental adults, the survival of early developmental stages and of new generation adults during dormancy.