Assessment of host selection behaviors and oviposition preferences of Cephus cinctus Norton (Hymenoptera: Cephidae) using wheat and smooth brome

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Agriculture


Wheat stem sawfly, Cephus cinctus Norton (WSS), is an important pest of cereal crops in Northern Great Plains. Smooth brome has historically been suggested as a potential trap crop around wheat fields in Montana. The objective of this study was to compare oviposition preference and selection behaviors of female WSS and measure subsequent larval survival in wheat and smooth brome stems. We compared infestation, parasitism and larval development of WSS using field transects in smooth brome and adjacent wheat fields. We found no clear difference in infestation between the two host plants. There was greater larval mortality and less tunneling in smooth brome stems compared to wheat at a site near Big Sandy, Montana. At a second site near Big Sandy, there was greater infestation in smooth brome compared to wheat, but there were more dead larvae and greater parasitism in smooth brome. In Y-tube olfactometer studies, WSS females were more attracted to volatiles emitted by smooth brome than wheat. In greenhouse trials, the observation of specific behaviors leading to oviposition indicated differences in duration of ovipositor insertion and in number of ovipositor insertions that favored greater oviposition in smooth brome, but only by emergence of the first awn of the inflorescence (Zadoks 49 growth stage). There were different numbers of eggs in smooth brome stems relative to wheat, with no difference in the proportion of infested stems in choice tests conducted for two days at Zadoks 49. In no-choice tests, there were differences in both infested stems and in the number of eggs in stems at Zadoks 49. We found significantly greater amounts of key behaviorally active compounds used by female WSS, like (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate and beta-ocimene, that were among the few differences in the amounts of volatile compounds collected from two plant species. The greater amount of these compounds leads to more eggs that subsequently experience greater larval mortality in young plants, resulting in fewer cut stems in mature plants. Our findings support the consideration of smooth brome for use in trap crops to improve integrated pest management strategies for WSS.




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