Prior to 2001, seed predation was virtually absent in the endemic Wiliwili Erythrina sandwicensis (Fabaceae: Degener), dominant tree species of lower-elevation Hawaiian dryland forests. The African bruchine chrysomelid Specularius impressithorax (Pic) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Bruchinae) was first detected in Hawai'i in 2001 and became established on all main islands within the next two years. The mode of entry for this invasive Erythrina seed predator into Hawai'i is unknown, but likely occurred with the importation of trinket jewelry from Africa containing characteristically brightly-colored Erythrina seeds. The initial establishment of this insect likely occurred on a non-native host, the widely cultivated coral tree E. variegata. Within three years of its first record, S. impressithorax accounted for 77.4% mean seed crop loss in 12 populations of Wiliwili on six main Hawaiian islands. Specularius impressithorax, dispersed through international commerce and established via E. variegata, has become a threat to a unique Hawaiian forest type and may threaten other Erythrina, especially New World representatives.
Additional publication details
Impact of the newly arrived seed-predating beetle Specularius impressithorax (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Bruchinae) in Hawai'i