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weevil on smartweed.

Weevil (Lixus rubellus) on Water Smartweed (Polygonum amphibium)

Weevils have the distinction of being the most diverse family (Curculionidae) in the most diverse Order (Coleoptera, beetles) in the most diverse Class (Insecta) in the most diverse Phylum (Arthropoda) in the Kingdom Animalia. In other words, the 48,000 species of weevils make it the most species-rich family of insects and possibly the most diverse group of organisms on Earth. Weevils are most diverse in the tropics and become less diverse in colder climates. North America is home to over 2400 species. Because there are so many species of weevils they are likely to be found in most ecosystems including wetlands. All North American species of weevils feed on plants. Several species in the genus Lixus specialize on plants in the Buckwheat (Polygonaceae) family. For example Lixus concavus feeds on dock and also on rhubarb. Females of Lixus rubellus bore into the stems of wetland plants in the Buckwheat family (Polygonaceae) to lay their eggs. The larvae feed on the plant tissue until the metamorphose into adults. The adults also feed on plants. Adults of Lixus rubellus have been collected from on water smartweed (Polygonum amphibian) (Pierce 1907), like the one shown above.

Water smartweed is truly "amphibious", as the Latin name Polygonum amphibium implies. It can grow as an erect plant on the land as in the plant shown above, or it can grow as an aquatic variety in which the leaves float on the surface of the water. The flowers and fruits are similar in either case. The fruits of smartweeds are an important wildlife food.

Contributed by Vicki Medland and Gary Fewless, Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

© 2001-2004 The Cofrin Center for Biodiversity and the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, All Rights Reserved
Last updated on April 15, 2014