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What Defines a Host? Oviposition Behavior and Larval Performance of Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) on Five Putative Host Plants

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Volp, T. M., Zalucki, M. P. and Furlong, M. J. (2022) What Defines a Host? Oviposition Behavior and Larval Performance of Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) on Five Putative Host Plants. Journal of Economic Entomology, 115 (6). pp. 1744-1751. ISSN 0022-0493

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1093/jee/toac056


When an invasive species first breaches quarantine and establishes in yet another country, it invariably causes consternation for growers, in part because of incomplete understanding of the plants that are at risk. The Fall Armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) is the most recent example in Australia. The number of plants that this polyphagous noctuid is reported to attack is vast, including many crop species. Consequently, initial reactions from grower industry groups that perceived themselves at risk were to demand emergency use of insecticides. Yet the field evidence suggests that many crops might not be at risk and since S. frugiperda arrived in Australia, maize crops have suffered most damage, followed by sorghum. We question the accuracy of some of the claims of reported host plants of S. frugiperda and report experiments that compared oviposition behavior, neonate silking behavior, and larval performance on five crops: the known hosts maize and sorghum, and the putative hosts cotton, peanut, and pigeon pea. Maize ranked highest in all preference and performance measures, followed by sorghum and peanut, with pigeon pea and cotton ranking lowest. Although S. frugiperda can survive, develop, and pupate on the crop species we examined, cotton and pigeon pea are not preferred by the pest in either the larval or adult stages. We suggest that before a plant is listed as a host for a given insect that the evidence should be fully reported and carefully evaluated. Collecting an immature insect from a plant does not make that plant a host!

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Crop and Food Science
Keywords:host plant specificity, polyphagy, host range, Zea mays, preference-performance hypothesis
Subjects:Science > Entomology
Science > Zoology > Invertebrates > Insects
Plant pests and diseases
Live Archive:19 Dec 2022 00:03
Last Modified:19 Dec 2022 05:56

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