Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/30/2009
Publication Date: 2/1/2010
Citation: Boiteau, G., Vincent, C., Meloche, F., Leskey, T.C. 2010. Harmonic radar: assessing the impact of tag weight on walking behavior of Colorado potato beetle, plum curculio and corn rootworm. Journal of Economic Entomology. 103(1):63-69. Interpretive Summary: Electronic dipole tags can be used to track insect movement using a harmonic radar system. The impact of these electronic tags on the walking behavior of three insects, including the Colorado potato beetle, the plum curculio, and the western corn rootworm, was determined. Results varied within and between the three species studied. The mean horizontal speed of the Colorado potato beetle and the plum curculio was reduced by 8 percent and 33 – 37 percent, respectively, while the mean horizontal speed of the western corn rootworm increased. The climbing speed of the Colorado potato beetle and the plum curculio did change only slightly. These results demonstrate that the tags themselves do not have a serious negative impact on the natural walking behavior of these three insect species. Thus, the harmonic radar tracking system can be used to gather ecological information associated with each of these species without comprising their natural behavior.
Technical Abstract: The impact of electronic dipole tags on the walking behavior of three insects was determined using video tracking software. Results varied within and between the three species studied. The mean horizontal speed of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say), was reduced by 8 percent when a 3.47 mg tag was mounted on the pronotum. The mean horizontal speed of the plum curculio, Conotrachelus nenuphar (Herbst), was reduced by 33 – 37 percent with 0.40 mg tags but not by heavier tags. The mean horizontal speed of the western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera), virgifera LeConte, increased when 0.6 mg tags were fixed on. A tag on the dorsum of the Colorado potato beetle or the plum curculio did only slightly change their climbing speed. Changes in the walking speed of the insects studied were variable but remained well within the range of values recorded in the literature for each species. The negative impact of the additional tag weight was within the range of constraints to movement (e.g. slopes, barriers, etc.) normally experienced by insects in their environment. The results show that a tag greater than or equal to 3.40 mg in weight will have minimal impact on the walking behavior of the Colorado potato beetle, that the optimal tag weight for the plum curculio approximates 0.40 mg and a lighter tag and a better attachment method are required for the corn rootworm. Because of the ability of insects to adapt to a wide range of landscapes and to their own body weight changes, the additional tag weight had a limited impact compared to the value of the ecological information gathered using this technology.