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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Host-Finding by Cabbage Looper Moths (Lepidoptera:noctuidae): Learning Hostodor Upon Contact with Host Foliage

Authors
item Landolt, Peter
item Molina, Oscar

Submitted to: Entomological Experimental Applied
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 26, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Research is being conducted to develop safe and effective methods to replace the use of environmentally hazardous pesticides for the control of insect pests of vegetable crops. One approach is to prevent a pest from finding and selecting a crop. At the Insect Attractants, Behavior, and Basic Biology Research Laboratory in Gainesville, Florida, the way that moths locate host plants for egg laying is being studied. The cabbage looper moth learns the odor of a host plant, such as celery, when it first contacts the plant and lays an egg on it. Subsequently, it is attracted to that plant odor and not to others. This information clarifies how crop-infesting insects locate different types of crops and should be useful in our efforts to develop methods to repel or deter them from infesting those crops.

Technical Abstract: Mated female cabbage looper moths that were caged with cotton, celery, or soybean foliage were attracted significantly more often than inexperienced moths to the odor of the same species of plant the following night. Moths that were caged with cotton or celery foliage were attracted significantly more often the following night only to the foliage of the same species and not to the foliage of the other plant species. Brief contact by a moth or a single oviposition on plant foliage was sufficient to increase subsequent attraction to plant foliage. This behavior appears to be associative learning of host odor and may enable cabbage looper moths to utilize host species that are unpredictable in time and space and are patchy in distribution.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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