Host plant selection behaviour of Chilo partellus and its implication for effectiveness of a trap crop

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Midega, C. A. O., Khan, Z. R., Pickett, J. A. and Nylin, S. 2011. Host plant selection behaviour of Chilo partellus and its implication for effectiveness of a trap crop. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata. 138 (1), pp. 40-47.

AuthorsMidega, C. A. O., Khan, Z. R., Pickett, J. A. and Nylin, S.

Female lepidopterans can display a hierarchy of preference among potential host species, a trait thought to arise from the balance between attractants and deterrents to which the insects respond. Host plant ranking by moths and larvae of Chilo partellus Swinhoe (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), an important pest of cereals in Africa, was investigated, and whether eggs deposited on specific host plants yield larvae of particular host preferences. Trap plants are used in management of this pest. However, any 'disagreement' in host ranking between moths and larvae could potentially reduce effectiveness of trap crops as larvae emigrate to the main crop from the parent's preferred trap plant. We also investigated whether host plant preference is influenced by the diet upon which larvae fed as part of an integrated assessment of the relationship between host plant selection and learning in C. partellus. Five host plants (all Poaceae) were used: maize (Zea mays L.), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor Moench), Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach), and two varieties of signal grass [Brachiaria brizantha (A. Rich.) Stapf], viz., local (henceforth signal grass) and improved ('Mulato'). In multiple choice tests, C. partellus female moths preferentially oviposited on Napier grass, followed by sorghum, maize, and signal grass, and least preferred 'Mulato'. Larvae however equally orientated and settled on leaf cuts of maize, sorghum, signal grass, and Napier grass, but least preferred 'Mulato'. Moreover, eggs from specific host plants did not yield larvae of particular host preferences. Furthermore, oviposition preference was not altered by the larval food. These results imply only a slight 'disagreement' in host ranking behaviour between moths and larvae, which is beneficial for trap cropping as larvae would not 'reject' the trap plant and appreciably disperse to the neighboring plants. Moreover, absence of larval learning behaviour indicates that regardless of the larval food C. partellus moths would still be attracted to the selected trap plant.

Year of Publication2011
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Journal citation138 (1), pp. 40-47
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderKilimo Trust, East Africa
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, Sweden
Swedish Research Council (VR)
Funder project or codeCentre for Sustainable Pest and Disease Management (PDM)

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