Response of kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) to different types and levels of simulated insect herbivore damage
Frye MJ; Hough-Goldstein J; Kidd KA
We studied the response of naturalized kudzu plants to simulated herbivory at three locations: Delaware (DE) Pennsylvania (PA) and North Carolina (NC). At the DE and PA sites plant mortality after the first yr was 14 and 50% respectively and was highest for plants that had a small starting root crown size. At both sites 50 and 75% leaf and shoot clipping and drilling one or two large holes from the root crown into roots had no effect on aboveground biomass. In NC all plants survived for 3 yr. Plants subject to 50% vine removal at this site showed significant decrease in aboveground biomass compared to the control but 50% leaf cutting and root drilling had no effect. In the greenhouse kudzu seedlings grown in 60 and 100% light compensated for 50% leaf removal but 75% damage reduced aboveground biomass. Plants survived for 1 to 2 mo in 0% direct light but only one of 53 plants survived to the end of the experiment. Results suggest that established kudzu plants are able to compensate for biomass removal seedlings can survive for several weeks without light and that effective biocontrol might require more than 2 to 3 yr of continuous damage.