Great Basin Naturalist


Insects inhabiting Great Basin wildrye (Elymus cinereus Scribn. & Merr.) were surveyed at two sites on the Snake River Plain in southern Idaho during 1982 and 1983. Forty-six species of phytophagous insects were observed. In addition, eight parasitoid species were reared from insect hosts in the plant culms and identified. Lifestage, abundance, plant part utilized, and study site were recorded for each insect species collected. Insect guilds at the two sites were compared based on species presence utilizing Sorensen's similarity index. Overall, 26 insect species were common to both sites, yielding a moderate similarity index of 0.62.

The majority of the species that constitute the wildrye herbivore guilds were oligophagous (restricted to grasses). Many of these insects feed on grain crops as well as other native and introduced grasses. The relatively high diversity of phytophages on wildrye may be due to its tall, bunchgrass growth form, its abundance within its habitat, its broad geographic range, and the large number of related species of grasses in the region.