Flight capacity of the walnut twig beetle (coleoptera: Scolytidae) on a laboratory flight mill

Aubree M. Kees, Andrea R. Hefty, Robert C. Venette, Steven J. Seybold, Brian H. Aukema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The walnut twig beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis Blackman, and associated fungus Geosmithia morbida Kolarik, Freeland, Utley, & Tisserat constitute the insect-fungal complex that causes thousand cankers disease in walnut, Juglans spp., and wingnut, Pterocarya spp. Thousand cankers disease is responsible for the decline of Juglans species throughout the western United States and more recently, the eastern United States and northern Italy.We examined the flight capacity of P. juglandis over 24-h trials on a flight mill in the laboratory. The maximum total flight distance observed was ∼3.6 km in 24h; however, the mean and median distances flown by beetles that initiated flight were ∼372 m and ∼158 m, respectively. Beetles flew for 34min on average within a 24-h flight trial. Male and female flight capacities were similar, even thoughmales were larger than females (0.64 vs. 0.57mmpronotal width). Age postemergence had no effect on flight distance, flight time, or mean flight velocity. The propensity to fly, however, decreased with age. We integrated results of flight distance with propensity to fly as beetles aged in a Monte Carlo simulation to estimate the maximum dispersal capacity over 5 d, assuming no mortality. Only 1% of the insects would be expected to fly >2 km, whereas one-Third of the insects were estimated to fly <100 m. These results suggest that nascent establishments remain relatively localized without anthropogenic transport or wind-Aided dispersal, which has implications for management and sampling of this hardwood pest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-641
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Dispersal
  • Geosmithia morbida
  • Pityophthorus juglandis
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Thousand cankers disease


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