Japanese beetles’ feeding on milkweed flowers may compromise efforts to restore monarch butterfly habitat

Adam M. Baker, Daniel A. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

The eastern North American migratory population of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) is in serious decline. Habitat restoration, including adding millions of host plants to compensate for loss of milkweed in US cropland, is a key part of the international conservation strategy to return this iconic butterfly to sustainable status. We report here that Popillia japonica, a polyphagous, invasive beetle, aggregates and feeds on flowers of Asclepias syriaca, the monarch’s most important larval food plant, reducing fruiting and seed set by >90% and extensively damaging milkweed umbels in the field. The beetle’s ongoing incursion into the monarch’s key breeding grounds in the US Midwest is likely to limit pollination and outcrossing of wild and planted milkweeds, reducing their capacity to colonize new areas via seeds. Popillia japonica represents a previously undocumented threat to milkweeds that should be considered in models for monarch habitat restoration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12139
JournalScientific Reports
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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