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Environmental Entomology




A facultative commitment to adult migration in the larval stage can be modified again after adult emergence in some Lepidoptera when influenced by an appropriate environmental cue during a sensitive stage. This phenomenon is termed secondary regulation of migration. The sensitive stage in adult beet webworm, Loxostege sticticalis L. (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), was determined experimentally by starvation of presumed migrant females reared from gregarious-phase larvae (induced by crowding at 10 larvae per 650-ml jar). When presumed migrant adults were starved for 24 h on either of the first 2 d after emergence, the preoviposition period was shortened. In contrast, preoviposition periods were not significantly shortened for migrants starved on day 3 or when starvation lasted for more than 1 d after emergence. Because the preoviposition period corresponds to the migratory period in beet webworm, the results suggest that the first 2 d of adult life in the beet webworm is the sensitive stage during which presumed migrants can be switched to residents by an appropriate environmental cue. During the sensitive stage or not, starvation did not influence lifetime fecundity, oviposition period, longevity, or hatching rate of eggs laid by the starvation-stressed moths. Starvation on the first day also increased tethered flight performance and accelerated both flight muscle and ovarian development. The results suggest that a pulse of starvation in the sensitive period may inhibit the expected migration by accelerating and compressing the cycle of migratory flight muscle development and degeneration, while accelerating ovarian development, which is normally suppressed until after migration.


This article is published as Cheng, Yunxia, Thomas W. Sappington, Lizhi Luo, Lei Zhang, and Xingfu Jiang. "Starvation on First or Second Day of Adulthood Reverses Larval-Stage Decision to Migrate in Beet Webworm (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae)." Environmental Entomology (2021). doi:10.1093/ee/nvab015.


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