Ecologically interacting species may have phylogeographic histories that are shaped both by features of their abiotic landscape, and by biotic constraints imposed by their co-association. The Baja California peninsula provides an excellent opportunity to examine the influence of abiotic vs. biotic factors on patterns of diversity in plant-insect species. This is because past climatic and geological changes impacted the genetic structure of plants quite differently to that of co-distributed free-living animals (e.g., herpetofauna and small mammals). Thus, ‘plant-like’ patterns should be discernible in host-specific insect herbivores. Here we investigate the population history of a monophagous bark beetle, Araptus attenuatus, and consider drivers of phylogeographic patterns in light of previous work on its host plant, Euphorbia lomelii. Based on mitochondrial and nuclear markers, we found that the evolutionary history of A. attenuatus exhibits similarities to host plant that are attributable to both biotic and abiotic processes. Southward range expansion and recent colonization of continental Sonora peninsula appear to be unique to this taxon pair, and likely reflect influences of the host plant. On the other hand, abiotic factors with landscape-level influences on suites of co-distributed taxa, such as Plio- and Pleistocene-aged marine incursions in the region, also left genetic signatures in beetle populations. Superimposed on these similarities, bark beetle-specific patterns and processes were also evident. Taken together, this work illustrates that the evolutionary history of species-specific insect herbivores may represent a mosaic of influences, including, but not limited to, those imposed by the host plant.