Phenological differences between host plants can contribute to allochronic isolation of host races of phytophagous insects. Host races of the gallmaking fly, Eurosta solidaginis, that live on different species of goldenrod (Solidago altissima and S. gigantea) exhibit different emergence phenologies. These differences could result from adaptation to corresponding phenological differences between the hosts in periods of optimal suitability for gall formation and survival to adulthood. In order to test this, some flies of each host race were allowed to emerge naturally while the emergence times of others were manipulated to correspond to the emergence and oviposition periods of the other host race. Percent gall formation and survival to adulthood were examined for three oviposition periods: The peak time of emergence and oviposition of the earlier-emerging host race (that from S. gigantea), that of the later-emerging host race (that from S. altissima), and a week after the peak emergence of the host race from S. altissima. Flies of both host races were allowed to ovipuncture plants of the appropriate species during each of these periods. Plant relative growth rates were measured during each of these periods. The experiment was repeated twice over a two-year period. Relative growth rates of both host species were highest during the earliest oviposition period (the period during which the host race from S. gigantea normally emerges). Percent gall formation was significantly correlated with plant relative growth rate, but the coefficient of determination was low. In both years of the study, percent gall formation of both host races was highest during the earliest oviposition period (the period during which the host race from S. gigantea normally oviposits). Likewise, percent survival to adulthood in both host races was highest during the earliest oviposition period. There was no significant effect of oviposition period on the percent of larval death due to parasitism by Eurytoma gigantea or predation by Mordellistena unicolor. These results suggest that the host race from S. altissima does not emerge at the time that its host is optimally suited for gall formation or survival to adulthood. Therefore, differences in emergence phenologies do not appear to be due to corresponding phenological differences between the host species in suitability for gall formation or survival to adulthood.
- Eurosta solidaginis
- Host race