Introduction and Natural History
The Dryophthoridae are not a very diverse group as far as weevils are concerned. Numbering only a few hundred species in Central and South America there are 127 species recorded from Costa Rica and 103 species from Panama. Adults of most species range in size from 10-20 mm in length although some may be as small as 4 mm or as large as 50 mm. Most of the frequently encountered species are large and colorful, which not only makes them readily available in collections for study, but also a much more visible part of the fauna, and thus of more familiarity and interest to the public. Nearly all of these weevils are associated with moncots, most commonly palms (Arecaceae), but also various epiphytes such as orchids (Orchidaceae), bromeliads (Bromeliadaceae) and arums (Araceae). Some species are pests of stored products (e.g., Sitophilus spp.), and some are associated with such agriculturally important plants as bananas (e.g., Polytus mellerborgii, Cosmopolites sordidus) and corn (e.g., some Sphenophorus spp.). Species of Metamasius also pose a threat to the rapidly developing tropical orchid and bromeliad industries. Where known, species of Rhodobaenus are associated primarily with plants in the dicot family Asteraceae. Larvae are generally miners in stems.
Dryophthorids occur in a wide range of habitats but seem most diverse in tropical lowland rain forest although a number of the recently described species appear to be found primarily in montane cloud forest habitats. Immature stages are not well known, and aside from anecdotal host plant associations, details of the life histories of most non-commercially important species are lacking.
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