Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and temperatures are increasing and, thus, the interactions between insect herbivores and their host plants in environments of elevated CO2 concentration and temperature must be examined. We investigated the combined effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration (400 and 700 μmol mol−1) and temperature (20, 25 and 30°C) on the development, survival and reproduction of two generations of the Madeira mealybug, Phenacoccus madeirensis Green, and the chemical composition of chrysanthemum, Dendranthema × grandiflora Kitam., leaves. The development of the mealybugs was temperature-driven and was not influenced by the CO2 level or the number of generations. At higher temperatures, the duration to egg eclosion and the developmental time of adult females and males were significantly shortened. More eggs survived to adulthood at higher temperatures. Temperature had no influence on the egg eclosion percentage. The reproductive period of females was shortest at 30°C, while fecundity was highest at 20°C. There was a significantly higher proportion of females at the end of the experiment at lower than at higher temperatures. Elevated CO2 level and temperature did not change the chemical composition (nitrogen and carbon concentrations, and carbon-nitrogen ratio) of the host plants. Relative water content of the leaf tissues was higher at 30°C than other temperature treatments. Our results show that the effects of temperature on the biology of the Madeira mealybug were stronger than that of the elevated CO2 concentration.

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Author notes

3Department of Horticulture, Plant Sciences Building, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.