Submitted to: Journal of Insect Behavior
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/27/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Research is being conducted to find new biorational ways to control pest insects, without the excessive use of insecticides. At the USDA, ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Florida, scientists are studying the orientation responses of pest insects to natural attractants in order to develop lures and traps for rthese pests. The sugar cane root borer weevil, a major pest of citrus in the state of Florida, is attracted to aggregations of weevils that are feeding on foliage of citrus and other plant species. It was determined that the weevils learn the odor of a host plant when they feed on it and are subsequently preferentially attracted to that host plant's odor. This discovery will assist efforts to develop lures based on plant chemistry and weevil pheromones and to devise trapping strategies to control weevils with baited traps.
Technical Abstract: More female Diaprepes abbreviatus (L.) weevils that were fed a particular type of food (citrus foliage or green beans) were subsequently attracted to odors of that food than were weevils that were not fed that food. In choice tests, female weevils that were fed citrus foliage were attracted to citrus foliage and not to green beans, while female weevils that were fed green beans were attracted to green beans and not to citrus foliage. Afte changing the food fed upon for 7 days, female weevils then changed their food preference and were more attracted to odor of the new food type. This behavior is evidence of associative learning of host food odor. D. abbreviatus, as a polyphagous insect, may learn to orient to a particular food type to: (1) gain an advantage by adjusting to the most available food plant, (2) avoid sampling/tasting poisonous plant species while searching for food, and (3) locate food plants more rapidly by orienting to odors of the last host plant species it experienced.