Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2000
Publication Date: 6/15/2001
Citation: Landolt, P.J. 2001. Moth experience and not plant injury affected female cabbage looper moth (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) orientation to potato plants. Florida Entomologist. 84:243-249. Interpretive Summary: New methods and approaches are needed to control insect pests without the use of pesticides that are hazardous to people and the environment. Scientists at the USDA-ARS Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory are researching attraction responses of insects as part of a program to develop lures, traps, and baits for monitoring and controlling pests on crops, including potato. The cabbage looper, a defoliating pest of numerous vegetables, can learn the odor of a potato plant and then is more strongly attracted to that odor. However, they are unable to discriminate between the odor of plants that are treated to boost their defensive chemistry and plants that are not so treated. Additionally, they are not deterred by this treatment in flying to potato plants. This new information will help researchers to understand the effects of chemical treatments to plants that boost their defensive capabilities and to discover additional chemical attractants for these moths.
Technical Abstract: Naive mated female cabbage looper moths, Trichoplusia ni Hubner, exhibited a significant but weak, response in a flight tunnel to potted potato plants (Solanum tuberosum), compared to a pot of soil. Percentages of moths attracted to uninjured potato plants, mechanically-damaged potato plants, and potato plants treated with regurgitant from larvae of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say, were similar, indicating no effect of either increased constitutive or induced potato plant odorants. Female cabbage looper moth attraction to potato plants was increased significantly following prior contact (experience) by the moth with a potato plant. This increase in responsiveness to potato plants with experienced versus naive moths occurred whether the potato plants were uninjured, were mechanically damaged or were treated with Colorado potato beetle regurgitant. Moths preconditioned on potato plants treated with beetle regurgitant subsequently exhibited similar rates of attraction to mechanically-damaged plants and to regurgitant-treated plants. However, moths preconditioned on mechanically-damaged plants subsequently exhibited a greater response rate to mechanically damaged plants compared to regurgitant-treated plants.