Lissoderes cecropiae, female in lateral view.
Link to SCAN occurrence record.
Natural History. As the species name suggests, this weevil utilizes cecropia trees (Cecropia Löfling; Urticaceae) as its host plant. Lissoderes adults can be easily found on the underside of cecropia leaves throughout the Neotropics, along with the members of conoderine genus Pseudolechriops and some species of Eulechriops and Lechriops, among other weevils. Lissoderes cecropiae is found at mid elevations (~ 1,000-1,600 m) on the tree Cecropia angustifolia. Larvae are endophytic in the internodes, feeding on the parenchyma tissue while moving around on their dorsum. However, the specific oviposition site on the host plant, mating behavior, and adult feeding behavior for this species remain unknown. Read more
You knew it was coming – a new, weevil-centric natural history and taxonomy series: Wednesday’s Weekly Weevil. Twitter hashtag: #WednesdaysWeeklyWeevil. Authors will rotate. Systenotelus carludovicae is starting off the series.
Systenotelus carludovicae, male in lateral view.
Link to SCAN occurrence record
Natural history. Systenotelus carludovicae, the “Panama Hat Palm Seed Weevil” (hereby named), is a highly specialized, seed feeding weevil that occurs only on select species of Panama Hat Palms (genus Carludovica; Cyclanthaceae) in Costa Rica and Panama. These weevils are significantly larger than close relatives, and the females in particular are tapered at both ends (rostrum and abdomen). This feature allows them to lay eggs into small inter-floral entrances “from the outside”. The larvae feed on multiple seeds. As a result, this species is fairly detrimental to its host – it is not a pollinator and further reduces the plant’s reproductive success by destroying fertilized seeds. There is an interesting morphological “arms race” among several species of Carludovica and Systenotelus, documented in detail in Franz (2004). The weevil species are successively longer and narrower, whereas the plant species have increasingly better protected female flowers. One might argue that Systenotelus “caused” the diversification of Carludovica species in southern Central America.
Other comments & fun facts. Systenotelus is Greek for “tapered at both ends” – a very fitting and beautiful name. The female flowers of the host plant species Carludovica sulcata are apparently so well protected against oviposition and seed feeding by Systenotelus weevils (who are not visitors of this species) that they are also hard to access for more beneficial, pollinating species of acalyptine weevils. A short video of a related species is posted here.