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PLANT ASSOCIATIONS OF SOME PANAMANIAN BEETLES:
WHICH BEETLES EAT WHICH PLANTS?

Most Coleoptera (beetles) are "phytophagus", that is, they eat plants. The coleopteran families that, by their sheer numbers, have the greatest impact on plants are the Curculionidae, Chrysomelidae, Cerambycidae, Buprestidae, and Bruchidae. The huge number of plant species in Panama leads to a correspondingly large number of plant-beetle associations.

Which beetles eat which plants? This data base consists of field observations and notes made over a 30 year period in Panama.

The family with the largest number of beetle species is the Curculionidae (the weevils). Most weevils depend on plants for their nutrition, often specializing in a particular plant part. They may specialize on leaves, flowers, buds, stems, wood, bark, roots, fruit or seeds. Many tropical weevils eat select parts of one or a few species of plants. A few feed on fungi. Frequently the presence of the weevil will identify the plant, or vice versa.

Although weevils account for the majority of my observations, the database does include other Panamanian beetle families and the plants that they choose.

The photographs were kindly provided by Donald Windsor.

--Henry Stockwell

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