Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Entomology (MS)

Degree Level





Timothy J. Kring

Committee Member

Fred M. Stephen

Second Committee Member

Johnnie L. Gentry


Biological sciences, Biological control, Ecological Modeling, Knapweeds


Larinus minutus Gyllenhal, a biological control agent of invasive knapweeds, has become established in several states and provinces since initial North American introduction in 1991. In order to reduce growing spotted knapweed populations in Northwest Arkansas, Larinus minutus (a biological control agent of spotted knapweed) was released annually from 2008-2011. Little is known about the larval development of this species, although the widespread use of this insect has provided research describing detailed host range and generalized life history. The speed and extent of the spread of this weevil from release sites following introduction have not been reported. This research described the larval development of L. minutus and its spread from release sites. Overwintered adult weevils were field collected and allowed to mate for two days for larval development studies. Females were placed individually into a mesh cage attached to a capitulum and allowed ~24 hours to oviposit. Randomly-collected caged capitula were dissected biweekly and head capsule measurements recorded. Once a majority of larva pupated, alternate day observations were conducted on remaining caged capitula to determine average emergence date. Two cohorts (occurring at full and late-flower) were used to observe season-related development differences. Two larval instars were observed from head capsule data analyzed with Hcap, a computer program that analyzes frequency distributions to determine instar number, mean head capsule width, instar range, and optimal separation points. Compared to previously published observations, all developmental stages were accelerated and one fewer stage was observed. Release sites were surveyed with transect sampling in winter of 2011 and 2012 to describe average L. minutus spread following introduction. Sampling included collection of 100 capitula per quadrat along each transect for later dissection and timed visual observation to record positive infestation. GPS coordinates were recorded at each sample location to determine

distance from a release site. Collected data were analyzed with a diffusion equation to describe the spread from a release site. This research shows two years post release, an annual increase of infested capitula, up to 21%, and spread from a release point, up to ~225 m can be expected.