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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES RELATED TO INSECTS FOR ESTABLISHED AND INVASIVE PEST SPECIES

Location: Crop Protection and Management Research

Title: Diet flight pattern and flight performance of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) measured on a flight mill: The influence of age, gender, mating status and body size

Authors
item Sarvary, Mark - ETH ZURICH
item Bloem, Kenneth - USDA APHIS PPQ
item Bloem, Stephanie - USDA APHIS PPQ CPHST
item CARPENTER, JAMES
item HIGHT, STEPHEN
item Dorn, Silvia - USDA APHIS CMAVE

Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 14, 2007
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
Citation: Sarvary, M.A., Bloem, K.A., Bloem, S., Carpenter, J.E., Hight, S.D., Dorn, S. 2008. Diet flight pattern and flight performance of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptea: Pyralidae) measured on a flight mill: Influence of age, gender, mating status, and body size. J. Econ. Entomol. 101(2):314-324.

Interpretive Summary: Cactoblastis cactorum is an invasive pest that poses a serious risk to the rich diversity of Opuntia cacti in North America. Knowledge of the flight behavior of the cactus moth is crucial for a better understanding of natural dispersal, and for both monitoring and control. We investigated daily flight activity and flight performance in relation to gender, age, mating status and body size. Maximal flight activity for both mated and unmated moths occurred during twilight hours, while flight activity was low during daylight. Comparative assessment of the total distance flown, the longest single flight and the number of initiated flights within a daily cycle did not detect significant effects of age or gender on flight performance among unmated and mated moths, except that the longest single flight decreased in length with increasing age in mated females. These findings suggest that pheromone trap captures of males likely indicate the simultaneous presence of females. A small portion of the population (both males and females) performed long unbroken flights, but most moths made short flights. There was no correlation between body size (weight) and flight performance within the same gender, but higher pupal and adult body size and shorter longevity was found in females than in males. A few individuals, particularly young mated females, flying long distances may be important for active spread of a population and the colonization of new habitats. Implications of this study in the control of the cactus moth using the sterile insect technique (SIT) are discussed.

Technical Abstract: Cactoblastis cactorum (Berg) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) is an invasive herbivore that poses a serious risk to the rich diversity of Opuntia cacti in North America. Knowledge of the flight behavior of the cactus moth is crucial for a better understanding of natural dispersal, and for both monitoring and control. We investigated diel flight activity and flight performance in relation to gender, age, mating status and body size. Maximal flight activity for both mated and unmated moths occurred during twilight hours, while flight activity was low during photophase. Comparative assessment of the total distance flown, the longest single flight and the number of initiated flights within a diel cycle did not detect significant effects of age or gender on flight performance among unmated and mated moths, except that the longest single flight decreased in length with increasing age in mated females. These findings suggest that pheromone trap captures of males likely indicate the simultaneous presence of females. Flight performance heterogeneity was large, with a small portion of the population (both males and females) performing long unbroken flights, while the majority made short flights. There was no correlation between body size (weight) and flight performance within the same gender, but higher pupal and adult body size and shorter longevity was found in females than in males. A few individuals, particularly young mated females, flying long distances may be important for active spread of a population and the colonization of new habitats. Implications of this study in the control of the cactus moth using the sterile insect technique (SIT) are discussed.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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