“The Botanists Among Us: Host plant specialization in insects”

It’s been a busy week for me—just two days after doing a presentation on tiger beetles to the Webster Groves Nature Society’s Entomology Group, I gave a talk to the St. Louis Chapter of the Missouri Native Plant Society. As implied by the title, the talk focused on host plant specialization among insects, first covering the major groups of plant-feeding insects and the evolutionary themes involved in adaption to (and away from) plant-feeding, then moving to examples of different types of host plant specificity and highlighting some of the more interesting insects that I’ve encountered (and managed to photograph) over the years.

Like my talk two nights earlier, it was another fun and lighthearted conversation with a highly engaged crowd, and I appreciate the great interest shown by a group that is normally much more focused on plants than on insects. Once again, it was well-attended locally, but for the benefit of those who were not able to attend the meeting in person and that may be interested in this subject, I’ve prepared a PDF version* of the presentation that you can download and peruse at your convenience.

* All content is copyrighted and may not be reproduced or distributed without written consent.

© Ted C. MacRae 2019

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
This entry was posted in Acrididae, Aphididae, Apidae, Arctiidae, Bombyliidae, Buprestidae, Cantharidae, Cerambycidae, Chrysomelidae, Coleoptera, Cynipidae, Danaidae, Diapheromeridae, Diptera, Disteniidae, Hemiptera, Lygaeidae, Nymphalidae, Orthoptera, Phasmida, Sesiidae, Tenthredinidae, Tettigoniidae, Thripidae, Thysanoptera, Zygaenidae and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “The Botanists Among Us: Host plant specialization in insects”

  1. Great photos as always! The oak-skeletonizing sawfly larvae are Caliroa (Tenthredinidae) for sure.
    The leaf mine is from an agromyzid fly, but there shouldn’t be one on hophornbeam… the leaf looks funny for Ostrya too, but I’m not sure what else to suggest it might be.

    • Thanks, Charley! Glad you like it, and the ID on the sawfly larvae is appreciated.
      I didn’t have any doubts about the mined being Ostrya, and it still looks like that to me. Other than some of the elms I’m not sure what else could be confused with it, although a mis-ID is always possible.

    • Hmm, looking closer I see the leaf edge is only single- not double-toothed as one would expect for Ostrya. I’ll have to dig a bit on this one—Ostrya is common in my area, but we’ll see what other candidates I can come up with.

  2. Pingback: Host plant specialization in insects | Global Plant Protection News

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