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Journal: Bulletin of entomological research


The females of the white grub beetle, Dasylepida ishigakiensis, release two enantiomers of 2-butanol, ®-2-butanol and (S)-2-butanol. The ratio describing the relative proportions of these two enantiomers (R/S ratio) has not yet been investigated. ®-2-Butanol has been shown to attract males in laboratory and field experiments, whereas (S)-2-butanol tends to inhibit them. To determine the R/S ratio of the 2-butanol emitted by virgin females, we collected 2-butanol from young (53 days old), mature (63 days old) and old females (73 days old) using water, extracted with an SPME fibre and subsequently injected into GC-MS. The major component of the 2-butanol emitted by the young females was ®-2-butanol, but as the females aged, the component ratio favoured (S)-2-butanol. Young females released an 80:20 mixture of ®- and (S)-2-butanol, whereas old females released a 45:55 mixture. The EAG response of male antennae to a 50:50 ratio (racemic mixture) showed a similar dose-response curve to that of ®-2-butanol. The male orientation responses to ®-2-butanol decreased when the relative proportion of (S)-2-butanol increased. An inhibitory and/or masking effect of (S)-2-butanol on male orientation behaviour was also observed in the flight tunnel assay. These results suggest that males are more strongly attracted to young females than to old females. We also discuss the possibility of using 2-butanol isomers as a control or monitoring agent for this insect.

Concepts: Male, Female, Insect, Stereochemistry, Ratio, Enantiomer, Beetle, Racemic mixture


Aphids are important agricultural pests worldwide. Their control is largely based on chemical insecticides. One species that shows important invasive abilities and host-plant-related differences is Therioaphis trifolii (Monell) (Hemiptera: Aphididae). T. trifolii maculata, also known as spotted alfalfa aphid (SAA), can be very injurious to alfalfa crops in certain regions, such as in Saudi Arabia for effective control it is essential to diagnose and monitor the resistance mechanisms in the SAA populations. In the present study, we analysed acetylcholinesterase (ace) target site insensitivity mechanisms. A 650 bp length DNA containing the putative acetylcholinesterase (ace1) precursor was obtained and compared with other Hemipteran species. The sequences of many individual aphids collected from alfalfa crops in Saudi Arabia were analysed for the presence of resistance mutations: no resistance mutations were found at the resistance mutation loci 302; however, the presence of a serine-phenylalanine substitution (S431F) was identified in one individual. The S431F substitution, has been shown to confer significant levels of both organophosphate and carbamate resistance in other aphid species, and is now found for the first time in T. trifolii. We subsequently developed a simple polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism assays for the S431F mutation, using a TaqI restriction site destroyed by the S431F mutation. The novel diagnostic assay may support the implementation of Insecticide Resistance Management strategies, for the control of SAA in alfalfa crops in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and other countries worldwide.

Concepts: DNA, Mutation, Insect, Saudi Arabia, Hemiptera, Insecticide, Aphid, Sternorrhyncha


Interspecific interactions between two larval parasitoids of Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) with partially overlapping host niches were studied: the idiobiont ectoparasitoid Dineulophus phthorimaeae De Santis, and the koinobiont endoparasitoid Pseudapanteles dignus (Muesebeck). T. absoluta is an important pest of tomato crops worldwide, and its management could be improved by understanding the competitive interactions and potential coexistence between these two parasitoids. Firstly, a 15-min fixed time laboratory test evaluated the host-searching ability of adult D. phthorimaeae and P. dignus wasps on T. absoluta larvae. Secondly, D. phthorimaeae host discrimination against endoparasitized and non-endoparasitized hosts by P. dignus, at different adult female ages, was experimentally examined. D. phthorimaeae wasps spent significantly more time in general searching in the presence of its competitor than in its absence, but, parasitism was only effective by P. dignus. Older D. phthorimaeae wasps discriminated significantly less than young wasps between T. absoluta larvae parasitized and unparasitized by P. dignus, and an interaction took place by non-concurrent host-feeding. Intra-guild predation of P. dignus larvae by D. phthorimaeae female feeding behaviour might have a minor effect in this system. Results are discussed in the context of literature supporting diverse evidence of coexistence in other parasitoid-host systems, with implications for T. absoluta biological control.

Concepts: Insect, Larva, Interspecific competition, Parasitism, Biological pest control, Hymenoptera, Parasitoid, Tuta absoluta


The koinobiont parasitoid Halticoptera circulus (Walker) is a potential biological control agent of leafminers, but it has only rarely been collected from the invasive leafminer, Liriomyza trifolii (Burgess), in Japan. To understand why this is the case, parasitism and development of H. circulus in L. trifolii was compared with parasitism and development in two indigenous leafminer species, Liriomyza chinensis Kato and Chromatomyia horticola (Goureau). There was no significant difference in parasitism rates by H. circulus in the three leafminer species and the eggs and larvae successfully developed in L. chinensis and C. horticola. However, H. circulus failed to develop in L. trifolii, where developmental stages were encapsulated by host haemocytes. This parasitoid may be a good agent to control indigenous leafminers such as L. chinensis and C. horticola but is unlikely to be useful for the biological control of the invasive L. trifolii in Japan.

Concepts: Insect, Parasitism, Developmental psychology, Lepidoptera, Biological pest control, Parasitoid, Apocrita, Leaf miner


Tephritid pests controlled through the sterile insect technique (SIT) are mass-reared and subsequently released in affected areas. Several quality parameters are currently used to test adults, but none take into account interactions with a predator. When sterile males are released in the field, they will need to avoid predators until they reach sexual maturity and survive long enough to mate with wild females. Spiders are one of the most common predators that flies may encounter in release sites. In this study, we evaluated the antipredator behavior of a mass-reared sterile unisexual strain (‘Tapachula-7’) of the Mexican fruit fly Anastrepha ludens (Diptera: Tephritidae) against their spider predators. We sampled spiders in citrus trees to determine which families could be more common. We established the baseline activity rates of sterile Tapachula-7 (Tap-7) flies in comparison with wild flies. We also tested the behavior of the fertile and sterile bisexual strain and wild flies against hunting spiders (Family Salticidae) and orb building spiders (Family Tetragnathidae). We recorded 18 spider families, with Salticidae being the most dominant. Tap-7 flies diminished their activity in comparison with wild males at 1800 h but showed similar activity levels earlier in the day. When exposed to orb-web spiders (Leucauge venusta), Tap-7, fertile and sterile males from the bisexual strain had similar rates of survival, but Tap-7 males showed lower survival than wild males. Against hunting spiders (Phidippus audax), wild males had higher probability of defensive wing displays, but there was no difference in spider attack rates. In general, sterile Tap -7 males performed as well as males from the bisexual strain, although they had lower survival than wild males. This could be due to either mass-rearing and/or irradiation effects. We recommend the use of the defensive wing display behavior as a quality parameter and propose a rapid and effective method to evaluate fly activity. The efficiency of SIT will be improved if released sterile males have the same antipredator repertoire as their wild counterparts.

Concepts: Insect, Predation, Antipredator adaptation, Fly, Spider, Spider web, Salticidae, Phidippus


The importance of the right food source for the survival and reproduction of certain insect species is well documented. In the case of biocontrol agents, this is even more important in order to reach a high predation or parasitation performance. The egg parasitoid Telenomus laeviceps (Förster, 1861) (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae) is a promising candidate for mass release as a biological control agent of the cabbage moth Mamestra brassicae (Linnaeus, 1758) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). However, adult T. laeviceps need a sugar-rich food source to increase their parasitation performance and produce a good amount of female offspring. Released biocontrol agents were shown to benefit from conservation biocontrol, which includes the provision of selected flowers as nectar resources for beneficial insects. In Switzerland, Centaurea cyanus L. (Asteraceae), Fagopyrum esculentum Moench (Polygonaceae) and Vicia sativa L. (Fabaceae) are successfully implemented in the field to attract and promote natural enemies of different cabbage pests. In this study, we investigated the potential of these selected flowers to attract and promote T. laeviceps under laboratory conditions. In Y-tube olfactometer experiments, we first tested whether the three nectar providing plant species are attractive to T. laeviceps. Furthermore, we assessed their effects on survival and parasitation performance of adult T. laeviceps. We found that flowers of F. esculentum and C. cyanus were attractive in contrast to V. sativa. Also fecundity and the number of female offspring produced were higher for females kept on F. esculentum and C. cyanus than on V. sativa. In contrast, survival was similar on all treatments. Our findings present a further key step towards the implementation of T. laeviceps as a biocontrol agent.


Immature fruit fly stages of the family Tephritidae are commonly intercepted on breadfruit from Pacific countries at the New Zealand border but are unable to be identified to the species level using morphological characters. Subsequent molecular identification showed that they belong to Bactrocera xanthodes, which is part of a species complex that includes Bactrocera paraxanthodes, Bactrocera neoxanthodes and an undescribed species. To establish a more reliable molecular identification system for B. xanthodes, a reference database of DNA barcode sequences for the 5'-fragment of COI gene region was constructed for B. xanthodes from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. To better understand the species complex, B. neoxanthodes from Vanuatu and B. paraxanthodes from New Caledonia were also barcoded. Using the results of this analysis, real-time TaqMan polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays for the detection of B. xanthodes complex and for the three individual species of the complex were developed and validated. The assay showed high specificity for the target species, with no cross-reaction observed for closely related organisms. Each of the real-time PCR assays is sensitive, detecting the target sequences at concentrations as low as ten copies µl-1 and can be used as either singleplex or multiplex formats. This real-time PCR assay for B. xanthodes has been successfully applied at the borders in New Zealand, leading to the rapid identification of intercepted Tephritidae eggs and larvae. The developed assays will be useful biosecurity tools for rapid detection of species in the B. xanthodes complex worldwide.


Predation by Engytatus varians (Distant) adults on different development stages of the prey species Bactericera cockerelli (Sulcer) (egg, second, and third nymphal instars), Spodoptera exigua (Hübner) and Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith) (egg, first, and second larval instars) was evaluated using tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) leaflets or plants. These insects are the primary pest of several agriculturally important crops. The influence of E. varians age on the predation capacity was also analysed. Engytatus varians females consumed significantly more B. cockerelli eggs and nymphs than males. Additionally, female predators consumed significantly more second than third instar prey at two predator ages, while males consumed significantly more the second instar than third instar prey at all predator ages. In most of the cases, females also consumed significantly more S. exigua and S. frugiperda eggs than males; however, in terms of larvae consumption, this difference was observed only in some predator ages. Females consumed more the first than second instar S. exigua than males, whereas this behaviour was only observed in males when the predators were 15 and 17 days old. No significant differences were observed in the consumption of first and second instar of S. frugiperda for both sexes of the predators. Predator age did not cause any systematic effects on the predation rates of any prey species. Based on these results, we confirmed that E. varians has potential as a biological control agent for B. cockerelli and also for the Spodoptera species bioassayed.


The red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Olivier) (Coleoptera: Dryophthoridae), native to tropical Asian regions, has become a serious threat to palm trees all over the world. Knowledge of its flight potential is vital to improving the preventive and curative measures currently used to manage this pest. As R. ferrugineus is a quarantine pest, it is difficult to study its flight potential in the field. A computer-monitored flight mill was adapted to analyse the flying ability of R. ferrugineus through the study of different flight parameters (number of flights, total distance flown, longest single flight, flight duration, and average and maximum speed) and the influence of the weevil’s sex, age, and body size on these flight parameters. Despite significant differences in the adult body size (body weight and length) of males and females, the sex of R. ferrugineus adults did not have an influence on their flight potential. Neither adult body size nor age was found to affect the weevil’s flying abilities, although there was a significantly higher percentage of individuals flying that were 8-23 days old than 1-7 days old. Compared to the longest single flight, 54% of the insects were classified as short-distance flyers (covering <100 m) and 36 and 10% were classified as medium- (100-5000 m) and long-distance (>5000 m), respectively. The results are compared with similar studies on different insect species under laboratory and field conditions.

Concepts: Male, Female, Insect, Sex, Force, Flight, Flying and gliding animals, Curculionidae


In Argentina, the mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.) (Diptera: Culicidae) is distributed from subtropical to temperate climates. Here, we hypothesized that the expansion of Ae. aegypti into colder regions is favoured by high-phenotypic plasticity and an adaptive inhibition of egg hatching at low temperatures. Thus, we investigated the hatching response of eggs of three populations: one from a subtropical region (Resistencia) and two from temperate regions (Buenos Aires City and San Bernardo) of Argentina. Eggs collected in the field were raised in three experimental colonies. F1 eggs were acclimated for 7 days prior to immersion at 7.6 or 22°C (control eggs). Five immersion temperatures were tested: 7.6, 10.3, 11.8, 14.1 and 16°C (range of mean winter temperatures of the three localities). A second immersion at 22°C was performed 2 weeks later to assess the inhibition to hatch under favourable conditions. After the first immersion, we compared the proportions of hatched eggs and dead larvae among treatment levels, whereas after the second immersion we compared the hatching response among the three populations. The factors that most influenced the egg hatching response were the geographical origin of the populations and the immersion temperature, but not the acclimation temperature. The proportions of hatching and larval mortality at low temperatures were higher for Resistencia than for Buenos Aires and San Bernardo, whereas the hatching response at ambient temperature was lower for San Bernardo than for Buenos Aires and Resistencia. The results support the hypothesis that populations from colder regions show an adaptive inhibition of egg hatching.