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Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Title: Neurophysiological and behavioral responses of gypsy moth larvae to insect repellents

item Sanford, Jillian
item Barski, Sharon
item Seen, Christina
item Dickens, Joseph - Dick
item Shields, Vonnie

Submitted to: PLoS One
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/20/2014
Publication Date: 6/23/2014
Citation: Sanford, J.L., Barski, S., Seen, C., Dickens, J.C., Shields, V.D. 2014. Neurophysiological and behavioral responses of gypsy moth larvae to insect repellents. PLoS One. 9(6):99924.

Interpretive Summary: DEET and other insect repellents have been used to decrease interactions between arthropod disease vectors and their vertebrate hosts including humans. Recently, we found that insect repellents were detected by a specific sensory cell responsive to a feeding deterrent on the mouthparts of adult yellow-fever mosquitoes. Now we show for the first time that a specific sensory cell that responds to feeding deterrents in gypsy moth larvae is also sensitive to insect repellents including DEET. Moreover, the insect repellents deterred feeding by the larvae. Our results suggest that perception of insect repellents by sensory cells sensitive to feeding deterrents may be widespread and portend their usefulness by entomologists and pest control personnel for management of immature stages of horticulturally destructive insects.

Technical Abstract: The interactions between insect repellents and the olfactory system have been widely studied, however relatively little is known about the effects of repellents on the gustatory system of insects. In this study, we show that the gustatory receptor neuron (GRN) located in the medial styloconic sensilla on the maxillary palps of gypsy moth larvae and known to be sensitive to feeding deterrents also responds to the insect repellents DEET, IR3535, and picaridin. Moreover, behavioral studies demonstrated that each repellent deterred feeding. This is the first study to show perception of insect repellents by the gustatory system of a lepidopteran larva and suggests that detection of a range of bitter or aversive compounds may be a broadly conserved feature among insects.