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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Body Size and Behavioural Plasticity Interact to Influence the Performance of Free-Foraging Bumble Bee Colonies
Insects 2021, 12(3), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030236 - 10 Mar 2021
Abstract
Specialisation and plasticity are important for many forms of collective behaviour, but the interplay between these factors is little understood. In insect societies, workers are often developmentally primed to specialise in different tasks, sometimes with morphological or physiological adaptations, facilitating a division of [...] Read more.
Specialisation and plasticity are important for many forms of collective behaviour, but the interplay between these factors is little understood. In insect societies, workers are often developmentally primed to specialise in different tasks, sometimes with morphological or physiological adaptations, facilitating a division of labour. Workers may also plastically switch between tasks or vary their effort. The degree to which developmentally primed specialisation limits plasticity is not clear and has not been systematically tested in ecologically relevant contexts. We addressed this question in 20 free-foraging bumble bee (Bombus terrestris) colonies by continually manipulating colonies to contain either a typically diverse, or a reduced (“homogeneous”), worker body size distribution while keeping the same mean body size, over two trials. Pooling both trials, diverse colonies produced a larger comb mass, an index of colony performance. The link between body size and task was further corroborated by the finding that foragers were larger than nurses even in homogeneous colonies with a very narrow body size range. However, the overall effect of size diversity stemmed mostly from one trial. In the other trial, homogeneous and diverse colonies showed comparable performance. By comparing behavioural profiles based on several thousand observations of individuals, we found evidence that workers in homogeneous colonies in this trial rescued colony performance by plastically increasing behavioural specialisation and/or individual effort, compared to same-sized individuals in diverse colonies. Our results are consistent with a benefit to colonies of large and small specialists under certain conditions, but also suggest that plasticity or effort can compensate for reduced (size-related) specialisation. Thus, we suggest that an intricate interplay between specialisation and plasticity is functionally adaptive in bumble bee colonies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Behavioural Variability)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Effect of the Genotypic Variation of an Aphid Host on the Endosymbiont Associations in Natural Host Populations
Insects 2021, 12(3), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030217 - 04 Mar 2021
Abstract
Understanding the role of facultative endosymbionts on the host’s ecology has been the main aim of the research in symbiont–host systems. However, current research on host–endosymbiont dynamics has failed to examine the genetic background of the hosts and its effect on host–endosymbiont associations [...] Read more.
Understanding the role of facultative endosymbionts on the host’s ecology has been the main aim of the research in symbiont–host systems. However, current research on host–endosymbiont dynamics has failed to examine the genetic background of the hosts and its effect on host–endosymbiont associations in real populations. We have addressed the seasonal dynamic of facultative endosymbiont infections among different host clones of the grain aphid Sitobion avenae, on two cereal crops (wheat and oat) and whether their presence affects the total hymenopteran parasitism of aphid hosts at the field level. We present evidence of rapid seasonal shifts in the endosymbiont frequency, suggesting a positive selection of endosymbionts at the host-level (aphids) through an agricultural growing season, by two mechanisms; (1) an increase of aphid infections with endosymbionts over time, and (2) the seasonal replacement of host clones within natural populations by increasing the prevalence of aphid clones closely associated to endosymbionts. Our results highlight how genotypic variation of hosts can affect the endosymbiont prevalence in the field, being an important factor for understanding the magnitude and direction of the adaptive and/or maladaptive responses of hosts to the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect Symbionts: Evolution and Application)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Organic Farming and Cover-Crop Management Reduce Pest Predation in Austrian Vineyards
Insects 2021, 12(3), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030220 - 04 Mar 2021
Abstract
Habitat simplification and intensive use of pesticides are main drivers of global arthropod declines and are, thus, decreasing natural pest control. Organic farming, complex landscapes, and local vineyard management practices such as implementation of flower-rich cover-crop mixtures may be a promising approach to [...] Read more.
Habitat simplification and intensive use of pesticides are main drivers of global arthropod declines and are, thus, decreasing natural pest control. Organic farming, complex landscapes, and local vineyard management practices such as implementation of flower-rich cover-crop mixtures may be a promising approach to enhance predator abundance and, therefore, natural pest control. We examined the effect of organic versus integrated management, cover-crop diversity in the vineyard inter-rows, and landscape composition on the natural pest control of Lobesia botrana eggs and pupae. Predation of L. botrana pupae was reduced by organic farming and species-poor cover-crops by about 10%. Predation rates of L. botrana eggs did not differ significantly in any of the studied management options. Dominant predators were earwigs (Forficulidae), bush crickets (Tettigoniidae), and ants (Formicidae). Negative effects of organic viticulture are most likely related to the negative nontarget effects on arthropods related to the frequent sulfur and copper applications in combination with the avoidance of strongly damaging insecticides by integrated winegrowers. While a 10% difference in predation rates on a single pest stage is unlikely to have strong practical implications, our results show that the assumed effectiveness of environmentally friendly agriculture needs to be evaluated for specific crops and regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Improving Functional Biodiversity in Vineyards)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
The Eco-Bio-Social Factors That Modulate Aedes aegypti Abundance in South Texas Border Communities
Insects 2021, 12(2), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020183 - 21 Feb 2021
Abstract
Aedes aegypti control requires dedicated resources that are usually scarce, limiting the reach and sustainability of vector control programs. This generates a need to focus on areas at risk of disease transmission and also understand the factors that might modulate local mosquito abundance. [...] Read more.
Aedes aegypti control requires dedicated resources that are usually scarce, limiting the reach and sustainability of vector control programs. This generates a need to focus on areas at risk of disease transmission and also understand the factors that might modulate local mosquito abundance. We evaluated the eco-bio-social factors that modulate indoor and outdoor relative abundance of female Ae. aegypti in communities of South Texas. We conducted housing quality and Knowledge Attitudes and Practices surveys in households that were part of a weekly mosquito surveillance program in November of 2017 and 2018. Our results showed widespread knowledge of mosquitoes and Zika virus by our participants. However, less than 35% considered them as serious problems in this region. The presence of window-mounted air conditioning units increased the risk of female mosquito relative abundance indoors. An increase in outdoor relative abundance was associated with larger properties and a higher number of children between 6 to 17 years of age. Interestingly, we observed that an increasing number of children <5 years of age modulated both indoor and outdoor relative abundance, with a 52% increase indoors and 30% decrease outdoors. The low perception of mosquito and disease risk highlights engagement needs for vector-borne disease prevention in this region. The identified risk factors can help guide public health officials in their efforts to reduce human and vector contact. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Further Insights on the Migration Biology of Monarch Butterflies, Danaus plexippus (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) from the Pacific Northwest
Insects 2021, 12(2), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020161 - 14 Feb 2021
Abstract
The fall migration of monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus (L.), in the Pacific Northwest was studied during 2017–2019 by tagging 14,040 captive-reared and 450 wild monarchs. One hundred and twenty-two captive-reared monarchs (0.87%) were recovered at distances averaging 899.9 ± 98.6 km for Washington-released [...] Read more.
The fall migration of monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus (L.), in the Pacific Northwest was studied during 2017–2019 by tagging 14,040 captive-reared and 450 wild monarchs. One hundred and twenty-two captive-reared monarchs (0.87%) were recovered at distances averaging 899.9 ± 98.6 km for Washington-released and 630.5 ± 19.9 km for Oregon-released monarchs. The greatest straight-line release to recovery distance was 1392.1 km. A mean travel rate of 20.7 ± 2.2 km/day and maximum travel of 46.1 km/day were recorded. Recovery rates were greater for Oregon-released monarchs (0.92%) than Washington-released (0.34%) or Idaho-released monarchs (0.30%). Most monarchs (106/122) were recovered SSW-S-SSE in California, with 82 at 18 coastal overwintering sites. Two migrants from Oregon were recovered just weeks after release ovipositing in Santa Barbara and Palo Alto, CA. Two migrants released in central Washington recovered up to 360.0 km to the SE, and recoveries from Idaho releases to the S and SE suggests that some Pacific Northwest migrants fly to an alternative overwintering destination. Monarchs released in southern Oregon into smoky, poor quality air appeared to be as successful at reaching overwintering sites and apparently lived just as long as monarchs released into non-smoky, good quality air. Migration and lifespan for monarchs infected with the protozoan parasite, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (McLaughlin and Myers), appeared to be similar to the migration and survival of uninfected monarchs, although data are limited. Our data improve our understanding of western monarch migration, serving as a basis for further studies and providing information for conservation planning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Butterfly Biodiversity and Conservation)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Host-Parasite Co-Evolution in Real-Time: Changes in Honey Bee Resistance Mechanisms and Mite Reproductive Strategies
Insects 2021, 12(2), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020120 - 29 Jan 2021
Abstract
Co-evolution is a major driving force shaping the outcome of host-parasite interactions over time. After host shifts, the lack of co-evolution can have a drastic impact on novel host populations. Nevertheless, it is known that Western honey bee (Apismellifera) populations [...] Read more.
Co-evolution is a major driving force shaping the outcome of host-parasite interactions over time. After host shifts, the lack of co-evolution can have a drastic impact on novel host populations. Nevertheless, it is known that Western honey bee (Apismellifera) populations can cope with host-shifted ectoparasitic mites (Varroa destructor) by means of natural selection. However, adaptive phenotypic traits of the parasites and temporal variations in host resistance behavior are poorly understood. Here, we show that mites made adaptive shifts in reproductive strategy when associated with resistant hosts and that host resistance traits can change over time. In a fully-crossed field experiment, worker brood cells of local adapted and non-adapted (control) A.mellifera host colonies were infested with mites originating from both types of host colonies. Then, mite reproduction as well as recapping of cells and removal of infested brood (i.e., Varroa Sensitive Hygiene, VSH) by host workers were investigated and compared to data from the same groups of host colonies three years earlier. The data suggest adaptive shifts in mite reproductive strategies, because mites from adapted hosts have higher probabilities of reproduction, but lower fecundity, when infesting their associated hosts than mites in treated colonies. The results confirm that adapted hosts can reduce mite reproductive success. However, neither recapping of cells nor VSH were significantly expressed, even though the latter was significantly expressed in this adapted population three years earlier. This suggests temporal variation in the expression of adaptive host traits. It also appears as if mechanisms not investigated here were responsible for the reduced mite reproduction in the adapted hosts. In conclusion, a holistic view including mite adaptations and studies of the same parasite/host populations over time appears overdue to finally understand the mechanisms enabling survival of V.destructor-infested honey bee host colonies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Honeybees and Wild Bees Health)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Reproductive Soldier Development Is Controlled by Direct Physical Interactions with Reproductive and Soldier Termites
Insects 2021, 12(1), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12010076 - 15 Jan 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
In eusocial insects (e.g., ants, bees, and termites), the roles of different castes are assigned to different individuals. These castes possess unique phenotypes that are specialized for specific tasks. The acquisition of sterile individuals with specific roles is considered a requirement for social [...] Read more.
In eusocial insects (e.g., ants, bees, and termites), the roles of different castes are assigned to different individuals. These castes possess unique phenotypes that are specialized for specific tasks. The acquisition of sterile individuals with specific roles is considered a requirement for social evolution. In termites, the soldier is a sterile caste. In primitive taxa (family Archotermopsidae and Stolotermitidae), however, secondary reproductives (neotenic reproductives) with their mandibles developed into weapons (so-called reproductive soldiers, also termed as soldier-headed reproductives or soldier neotenics) have been reported. To understand the developmental mechanism of this unique caste, it is necessary to understand the environmental cues and developmental processes of reproductive soldiers under natural conditions. Here, we established efficient conditions to induce reproductive soldiers in Zootermopsis nevadensis. Male reproductive soldiers frequently developed after the removal of both the king and soldiers from an incipient colony. Similarly, high differentiation rates of male reproductive soldiers were observed after king-and-soldier separation treatment using wire mesh. However, no male reproductive soldiers were produced without direct interaction with the queen. These results suggest that male reproductive soldier development is repressed by direct physical interactions with both the king and soldiers and facilitated by direct physical interaction with the queen. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Insect Physiology, Reproduction and Development)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
The Genetic Basis for Salivary Gland Barriers to Arboviral Transmission
Insects 2021, 12(1), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12010073 - 15 Jan 2021
Abstract
Arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) infect mosquito salivary glands and then escape to saliva prior to virus transmission. Arbovirus transmission from mosquitoes can be modulated by salivary gland infection barriers (SGIBs) and salivary gland escape barriers (SGEBs). We determined the influence of SGIBs and SGEBs [...] Read more.
Arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) infect mosquito salivary glands and then escape to saliva prior to virus transmission. Arbovirus transmission from mosquitoes can be modulated by salivary gland infection barriers (SGIBs) and salivary gland escape barriers (SGEBs). We determined the influence of SGIBs and SGEBs by estimating the quantitative genetic contributions of Aedes aegypti half-sib families (Mapastepec, Mexico) infected with three dengue 2 (DENV2), two chikungunya (CHIKV), and two Zika (ZIKV) genotypes. We determined virus titer per salivary gland and saliva at seven days post-infection and virus prevalence in the half-sib population. CHIKV or ZIKV genotypes did not present SGIB, whereas DENV2 genotypes showed low rates of SGIB. However, virus titer and prevalence due to additive genetic factors in the half-sib family displayed a significant narrow-sense heritability (h2) for SGIB in two of the three DENV2 genotypes and one CHIKV and one ZIKV genotype. SGEBs were detected in all seven virus strains: 60–88% of DENV2 and 48–62% of CHIKV or ZIKV genotype infections. SGEB h2 was significant for all CHIKV or ZIKV genotypes but not for any of the DENV2 genotypes. SGIBs and SGEBs exhibited classical gene-by-gene interaction dynamics and are influenced by genetic factors in the mosquito and the virus. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Darwin Returns to the Galapagos: Genetic and Morphological Analyses Confirm the Presence of Tramea darwini at the Archipelago (Odonata, Libellulidae)
Insects 2021, 12(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12010021 - 31 Dec 2020
Abstract
The status of the Tramea species present in the Galapagos Islands (Odonata, Libellulidae) has been the subject of a long-standing debate among odonatologists. Here, we use molecular and morphological data to analyze a series of specimens from this genus collected in 2018 from [...] Read more.
The status of the Tramea species present in the Galapagos Islands (Odonata, Libellulidae) has been the subject of a long-standing debate among odonatologists. Here, we use molecular and morphological data to analyze a series of specimens from this genus collected in 2018 from the Islands of San Cristobal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz, with the aim of determining their relationship with Tramea calverti Muttkowski and with their currently considered senior synonym T. cophysa Hagen. We combined sequencing of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA with morphological examination of several specimens of Tramea, including representatives of continental T. cophysa and T. calverti. Our molecular analyses place the Tramea from Galapagos in the same clade as T. calverti, with T. cophysa as a closely related species. The morphological analyses found only one consistent difference between T. cophysa and T. calverti: the presence of an accessory lobe in the male vesica spermalis of T. cophysa that is absent in T. calverti and in the Tramea from Galapagos. In agreement with our genetic results, the overall morphological differences documented by us indicate that the Galapagos material examined is conspecific with T. calverti. In light of this, and following the principle of priority in taxonomic nomenclature, Tramea calverti Muttkowski, 1910 should hereafter be considered a junior synonym of Tramea darwini Kirby, 1889. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Odonates in Human Environments)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Tick Preventive Behaviors and Practices Adopted by Medical Students from Poland, Germany, and Thailand in Relation to Socio-Demographic Conditions and Their Knowledge of Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases
Insects 2020, 11(12), 863; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11120863 - 03 Dec 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Given the high medical importance of ticks, we analyzed the most common preventive behaviors and practices adopted by medical students from Poland, Germany, and Thailand, and the level of their knowledge of ticks and tick-borne diseases. A survey consisting of 19 questions was [...] Read more.
Given the high medical importance of ticks, we analyzed the most common preventive behaviors and practices adopted by medical students from Poland, Germany, and Thailand, and the level of their knowledge of ticks and tick-borne diseases. A survey consisting of 19 questions was conducted among 636 randomly selected students. The study showed that the Polish and German students preferred inspection of the body on their return home (86.9% and 63.5%, respectively) and wearing protective clothes (79.8% and 32.3%, respectively) as part of prophylaxis. The Thai students most often chose wearing protective clothes (54.7%) and preventive behavior in tick habitats (42.7%). Approximately 7% of the Polish medical students and as many as 22% of the German and Thai respondents did not use any means of prevention. Our analyses suggest that the use of preventive methods and respondents’ behaviors depend on socio-demographic factors and the level of health education. The insufficient practical implementation of tick prevention measures by the medical students suggests a need for verification of health education programs in schools as well as effective popularization and educational activities. It is also necessary to develop a public health protection strategy against the effects of tick bites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Insect and Human Societies)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Optimizing Trap Characteristics to Monitor the Leaffooted Bug Leptoglossus zonatus (Heteroptera: Coreidae) in Orchards
Insects 2020, 11(6), 358; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11060358 - 09 Jun 2020
Abstract
The leaffooted bug, Leptoglossus zonatus (Heteroptera: Coreidae), has become a key pest of almonds, pistachios, and pomegranates in California. Adults and nymphs directly feed on nuts and fruits, which reduces crop yield and quality and can facilitate pathogen infections. Current monitoring strategies require [...] Read more.
The leaffooted bug, Leptoglossus zonatus (Heteroptera: Coreidae), has become a key pest of almonds, pistachios, and pomegranates in California. Adults and nymphs directly feed on nuts and fruits, which reduces crop yield and quality and can facilitate pathogen infections. Current monitoring strategies require growers to actively sample the tree canopy, with no economic thresholds being developed for this pest. To improve monitoring of L. zonatus, a three-year study was conducted to identify an optimal trap. A hanging cross-vane panel trap was identified as the best trap type in Year 1, and subsequent work in Years 1–3 focused on refining its use by modifying surface texture and color. Results indicated that coating trap surfaces with the lubricant fluon improved trap catching ability, and adults were most frequently recovered in yellow traps. A hanging cross-vane panel trap with these features could serve as the basis for the development of a new monitoring system for this pest in orchards, which could be improved further if semiochemical lures will be developed. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Hidden in Plain Sight: Comprehensive Molecular Phylogeny of Keroplatidae and Lygistorrhinidae (Diptera) Reveals Parallel Evolution and Leads to a Revised Family Classification
Insects 2020, 11(6), 348; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11060348 - 04 Jun 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
We provide the first molecular phylogeny of Keroplatidae and Lygistorrhinidae, families of fungus gnats (Diptera: Bibionomorpha: Sciaroidea). Phylogenies reconstructed by Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian methods, based on four nuclear and four mitochondrial gene markers (5106 base pairs) sequenced for 75 genera and 105 [...] Read more.
We provide the first molecular phylogeny of Keroplatidae and Lygistorrhinidae, families of fungus gnats (Diptera: Bibionomorpha: Sciaroidea). Phylogenies reconstructed by Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian methods, based on four nuclear and four mitochondrial gene markers (5106 base pairs) sequenced for 75 genera and 105 species, show Keroplatidae as monophyletic only with the family Lygistorrhinidae included, herewith treated as the subfamily Lygistorrhininae stat. nov. The subfamily Arachnocampinae is retained in the family, although lowering its overall support. An early branching clade, comprising species of Platyura Meigen, 1803 and Paleoplatyura melanderi Fisher, 1941, forms subfamily Platyurinae Loew, 1850 stat. nov. The subfamilies Sciarokeroplatinae and Macrocerinae grouped together with three genera considered here as Keroplatidae incertae sedis. Subfamily Lygistorrhininae forms a sister clade to subfamily Keroplatinae, both retained monophyletic with high support. The traditional division of the subfamily Keroplatinae into the tribes Orfeliini and Keroplatini appears as outdated, resting largely on adaptive characters prone to parallel evolution. We find support for an alternative tribe corresponding to the CloeophoromyiaAsindulum genus group, but a tribal reclassification of the Keroplatinae is left for future studies. The genus Heteropterna Skuse, 1888 is considered as identical with Ctenoceridion Matile, 1972 syn. nov. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Large- and Small-Scale Environmental Factors Drive Distributions of Ant Mound Size Across a Latitudinal Gradient
Insects 2020, 11(6), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11060350 - 04 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Red wood ants are keystone species of forest ecosystems in Europe. Environmental factors and habitat characteristics affect the size of their nest mounds, an important trait being in concordance with a colony’s well-being and impact on its surroundings. In this study, we investigated [...] Read more.
Red wood ants are keystone species of forest ecosystems in Europe. Environmental factors and habitat characteristics affect the size of their nest mounds, an important trait being in concordance with a colony’s well-being and impact on its surroundings. In this study, we investigated the effect of large-scale (latitude and altitude) and small-scale environmental factors (e.g., characteristics of the forest) on the size of nest mounds of Formica polyctena in Central Europe. We predicted that the change in nest size is in accordance with Bergmann’s rule that states that the body size of endotherm animals increases with the higher latitude and/or altitude. We found that the size of nests increased along the latitudinal gradient in accordance with Bergmann’s rule. The irradiation was the most important factor responsible for the changes in nest size, but temperature and local factors, like the perimeter of the trees and their distance from the nest, were also involved. Considering our results, we can better understand the long-term effects and consequences of the fast-changing environmental factors on this ecologically important group. This knowledge can contribute to the planning of forest management tactics in concordance with the assurance of the long-term survival of red wood ants. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
A Comparison of Morphology among Four Termite Species with Different Moisture Requirements
Insects 2020, 11(5), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11050262 - 25 Apr 2020
Abstract
The thicknesses of the cuticle and rectal pads, and the spiracle morphology were compared for four termite species from different habitats, including one drywood termite, Cryptotermes brevis Walker, one “wetwood” termite, Cryptotermes cavifrons Banks, one subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, and one dampwood [...] Read more.
The thicknesses of the cuticle and rectal pads, and the spiracle morphology were compared for four termite species from different habitats, including one drywood termite, Cryptotermes brevis Walker, one “wetwood” termite, Cryptotermes cavifrons Banks, one subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, and one dampwood termite, Neotermes jouteli (Banks). Cuticle thicknesses were significantly different among all four termite species. Neotermes jouteli had the thickest cuticle, while Co. formosanus had the thinnest. The cuticle of C. brevis was thicker than that of C. cavifrons and Co. formosanus, which may reflect a comparably greater need to prevent water loss in drier habitats for C. brevis. Rectal pad widths were significantly different among all four termite species, except those of C. brevis with N. jouteli. The rectal pads of N. jouteli and C. brevis were thicker than those of C. cavifrons and Co. formosanus, and the rectal pads of C. cavifrons were thicker than those of Co. formosanus in turn. Larger rectal pads likely account for the water conservation mechanism of producing dry, pelleted frass in the kalotermitids (N. jouteli, C. brevis, and C. cavifrons). Morphological observations of the spiracles showed the presence of protuberances (atrial arms) in the three kalotermitids. The function of this protuberance is unclear, but it may serve as a sac-like structure, aiding in gas exchange, or a moisture trap aiding in the prevention of water loss through evaporation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect Water Relations)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Monitoring Dermacentor reticulatus Host-Seeking Activity in Natural Conditions
Insects 2020, 11(5), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11050264 - 25 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Ticks are hematophagous ectoparasites of humans and animals. These arthropods employ different strategies in their host-seeking activity; most often, it is the “nest”- and “pasture-questing” behaviour. Some species, e.g., Dermacentor reticulatus, exhibit both types of activity depending on their developmental stage. The [...] Read more.
Ticks are hematophagous ectoparasites of humans and animals. These arthropods employ different strategies in their host-seeking activity; most often, it is the “nest”- and “pasture-questing” behaviour. Some species, e.g., Dermacentor reticulatus, exhibit both types of activity depending on their developmental stage. The aim of the present study was to investigate the host-seeking activity of adult D. reticulatus ticks in the eastern part of Poland. To this end, ticks were collected with the flagging method during their seasonal activity in three different types of habitat. Active specimens were marked with a permanent marker and then released. This was repeated consistently at 7-day intervals using a different colour of the marker each time, which allowed tracking the questing activity of the specimens. Most frequently, repetitive tick activity (repeated up to seven times) was noted in a locality surrounded by urban developments. In an agriculturally unused open meadow habitat, 69.9% of D. reticulatus ticks were found to undertake questing activity only once. D. reticulatus females proved to be more aggressive and determined to find a host than the males of this species. Adult D. reticulatus ticks are able to stay in the habitat for a long time and undertake multiple host-seeking activities. The greatest threat of attacks on animals, including domestic animals, and sporadically humans, by these ticks occurs in meadow habitats, which are preferred by this species. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Her Majesty’s Desert Throne: The Ecology of Queen Butterfly Oviposition on Mojave Milkweed Host Plants
Insects 2020, 11(4), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11040257 - 21 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Butterfly–host plant relationships can inform our understanding of ecological and trophic interactions that contribute to ecosystem function, resiliency, and services. The ecology of danaid–milkweed (Apocynaceae) host plant interactions has been studied in several biomes but is neglected in deserts. Our objective was to [...] Read more.
Butterfly–host plant relationships can inform our understanding of ecological and trophic interactions that contribute to ecosystem function, resiliency, and services. The ecology of danaid–milkweed (Apocynaceae) host plant interactions has been studied in several biomes but is neglected in deserts. Our objective was to determine effects of plant traits, seasonality, and landscape-level host plant availability on selection of Mojave milkweed (Asclepias nyctaginifolia A. Gray) by ovipositing monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus plexippus) and queen butterflies (Danaus gilippus thersippus) in the Californian Mojave Desert. We surveyed all known Mojave milkweed locations in the Ivanpah Valley, California (n = 419) during early, mid-, and late spring in 2017. For each survey, we counted monarch and queen butterfly eggs on each Mojave milkweed plant. We also measured canopy cover, height, volume, and reproductive stage of each Mojave milkweed plant. We counted a total of 276 queen butterfly eggs and zero monarch butterfly eggs on Mojave milkweed host plants. We determined that count of queen butterfly eggs significantly increased with increasing Mojave milkweed canopy cover. Additionally, count of queen butterfly eggs was: (1) greater on adult Mojave milkweed plants than on juvenile and seedling plants and greater on juvenile Mojave milkweed plants than on seedling plants; and (2) greater during early spring than mid-spring—we recorded no eggs during late spring. Based on aggregation indices, queen butterfly eggs occurred on Mojave milkweed plants in a nonrandom, clustered pattern throughout the Ivanpah Valley. We provide the first evidence of trophic interactions between queen butterflies and Mojave milkweed at multiple spatial scales in the Mojave Desert, suggesting that conservation and management practices for both species should be implemented concurrently. Given its role as an herbivore, pollinator and prey, the queen butterfly may serve as a model organism for understanding effects of anthropogenic disturbance (e.g., solar energy development) on “bottom-up” and trophic interactions among soils, plants and animals in desert ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Butterfly Biodiversity and Conservation)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
The Effect of Temperature on the Development of Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)
Insects 2020, 11(4), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11040228 - 07 Apr 2020
Cited by 10
Abstract
The fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is a pest of tropical origin which recently invaded Africa, the Far East and Australia. Temperature, therefore, plays an important role in its invasion biology, since this pest does not go into diapause. The aim of [...] Read more.
The fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is a pest of tropical origin which recently invaded Africa, the Far East and Australia. Temperature, therefore, plays an important role in its invasion biology, since this pest does not go into diapause. The aim of this study was to determine the development rate of S. frugiperda at different temperatures and to calculate the number of degree-days (°D) required for each stage to complete its development. This study was conducted at five different temperatures—18, 22, 26, 30 and 32 ± 1 °C. Larvae were reared individually in Petri dishes with sweetcorn kernels provided as food. The development rate of S. frugiperda increased linearly with increasing temperatures between 18 and 30 °C and larval survival was the highest between 26 and 30 °C. The optimal range for egg, larval and egg-to-adult development was between 26 and 30 °C. The optimum temperature with the fastest larval development rate and lowest mortality was at 30 °C. The pupal development period ranged between 7.82 and 30.68 days (32–18 °C). The minimum temperature threshold for egg and larva development was 13.01 and 12.12 °C, respectively, 13.06 °C for pupae and 12.57 °C for egg-to-adult development. Degree-day requirements for the development of the respective life cycle stages of S. frugiperda were 35.68 ± 0.22 for eggs, 204.60 ± 1.23 °D for larvae, 150.54 ± 0.93 °D for pupae and 391.61 ± 1.42 °D for egg-to-adult development. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Synergistic Toxicity Interactions between Plant Essential Oil Components against the Common Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius L.)
Insects 2020, 11(2), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11020133 - 19 Feb 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Management of the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) necessitates the use of multiple control techniques. In addition to synthetic pesticides and mechanical interventions, plant-derived essential oils represent one of the control options. Mixtures of two or more essential oil components (monoterpenoids) [...] Read more.
Management of the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) necessitates the use of multiple control techniques. In addition to synthetic pesticides and mechanical interventions, plant-derived essential oils represent one of the control options. Mixtures of two or more essential oil components (monoterpenoids) exhibit synergistic toxicity effects against insects due to increased cuticular penetration. Monoterpenoids, such as carvacrol, eugenol and thymol, are neurologically active and inhibit the nerve firing activity of C. lectularius. However, the effects of mixtures of these monoterpenoids on their toxicity and neuroinhibitory potential against C. lectularius are not known. In this study, the toxicity levels of a tertiary mixture of carvacrol, eugenol and thymol (1:1:1 ratio) and a binary mixture of synthetic insecticides, bifenthrin and imidacloprid (1:1 ratio) were evaluated against C. lectularius through topical bioassays and electrophysiology experiments. Both a mixture of monoterpenoids and the mixture of synthetic insecticides exhibited synergistic effects in topical bioassays. In electrophysiology experiments, the monoterpenoid mixture led to greater neuroinhibitory effects, whereas a mixture of synthetic insecticides caused higher neuroexcitatory effects in comparison to single compounds. This study shows evidence for neurological mechanisms of synergistic interactions between monoterpenoids and provides information regarding the utilization of natural compound mixtures for C. lectularius management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology and Management of Bed Bugs)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Mountains as Islands: Species Delimitation and Evolutionary History of the Ant-Loving Beetle Genus Panabachia (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae) from the Northern Andes
Insects 2020, 11(1), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11010064 - 20 Jan 2020
Abstract
The ant-loving beetle genus Panabachia Park 1942 is a poorly studied beetle lineage from the new world tropics. We recently collected Panabachia from several previously unrecorded locations in the páramo biome of the high Ecuadorian Andes, with males exhibiting great morphological variation in [...] Read more.
The ant-loving beetle genus Panabachia Park 1942 is a poorly studied beetle lineage from the new world tropics. We recently collected Panabachia from several previously unrecorded locations in the páramo biome of the high Ecuadorian Andes, with males exhibiting great morphological variation in the distribution of the foveae and depressions in the pronotum, as well as aspects of the male genitalia. Here, we employ phylogenetic and species delimitation methods with mitochondrial (COI) and nuclear protein-coding (wingless) gene sequences to examine the concordance of morphological characters and geography with hypothesized species boundaries. Three methods of species delimitation (bPTP, GMYC and Stacey) were used to estimate the number of species, and divergence times between putative species using molecular clock calibration. Phylogenetic analysis revealed two parallel radiations, and species delimitation analyses suggest there are between 17 and 22 putative species. Based on clade support and concordance across species delimitation methods we hypothesize 17 distinct clusters, with allopatric speciation consistent with most geographic patterns. Additionally, a widespread species appears to be present in northern páramo sites, and some sister species sympatry may indicate other diversification processes have operated on certain lineages of Panabachia. Divergence time estimates suggest that Panabachia originated in the Miocene, but most species analyzed diverged during the Pliocene and Pleistocene (5.3–0.11 Mya), contemporaneous with the evolution of páramo plant species. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Molecular Phylogeny and Infraordinal Classification of Zoraptera (Insecta)
Insects 2020, 11(1), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11010051 - 12 Jan 2020
Abstract
Zoraptera is a small and predominantly tropical insect order with an unresolved higher classification due to the extremely uniform external body morphology. We, therefore, conducted a multigene molecular phylogeny of extant Zoraptera and critically re-evaluated their morphological characters in order to propose a [...] Read more.
Zoraptera is a small and predominantly tropical insect order with an unresolved higher classification due to the extremely uniform external body morphology. We, therefore, conducted a multigene molecular phylogeny of extant Zoraptera and critically re-evaluated their morphological characters in order to propose a natural infraordinal classification. We recovered a highly-resolved phylogeny with two main clades representing major evolutionary lineages in Zoraptera, for which we propose family ranks. The two families exhibit striking differences in male genitalia and reproductive strategies. Each family contains two subclades (subfamilies) supported by several morphological synapomorphies including the relative lengths of the basal antennomeres, the number and position of metatibial spurs, and the structure of male genitalia. The newly proposed higher classification of Zoraptera includes the family Zorotypidae stat. revid. with Zorotypinae Silvestri, 1913 (Zorotypus stat. revid., Usazoros Kukalova-Peck and Peck, 1993 stat. restit.) and Spermozorinae subfam. nov. (Spermozoros gen. nov.), and Spriralizoridae fam. nov. with Spiralizorinae subfam. nov. (Spiralizoros gen. nov., Scapulizoros gen. nov., Cordezoros gen. nov., Centrozoros Kukalova-Peck and Peck, 1993, stat. restit., Brazilozoros Kukalova-Peck and Peck, 1993, stat. restit.), and Latinozorinae subfam. nov. (Latinozoros Kukalova-Peck and Peck, 1993, stat. restit.). An identification key and morphological diagnoses for all supraspecific taxa are provided. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
How Bees Respond Differently to Field Margins of Shrubby and Herbaceous Plants in Intensive Agricultural Crops of the Mediterranean Area
Insects 2020, 11(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11010026 - 29 Dec 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
(1) Intensive agriculture has a high impact on pollinating insects, and conservation strategies targeting agricultural landscapes may greatly contribute to their maintenance. The aim of this work was to quantify the effect that the vegetation of crop margins, with either herbaceous or shrubby [...] Read more.
(1) Intensive agriculture has a high impact on pollinating insects, and conservation strategies targeting agricultural landscapes may greatly contribute to their maintenance. The aim of this work was to quantify the effect that the vegetation of crop margins, with either herbaceous or shrubby plants, had on the abundance and diversity of bees in comparison to non-restored margins. (2) The work was carried out in an area of intensive agriculture in southern Spain. Bees were monitored visually and using pan traps, and floral resources were quantified in crop margins for two years. (3) An increase in the abundance and diversity of wild bees in restored margins was registered, compared to non-restored margins. Significant differences in the structure of bee communities were found between shrubby and herbaceous margins. Apis mellifera and mining bees were found to be more polylectic than wild Apidae and Megachilidae. The abundance of A. mellifera and mining bees was correlated to the total floral resources, in particular, to those offered by the Boraginaceae and Brassicaceae; wild Apidae and Megachilidae were associated with the Lamiaceae. (4) This work emphasises the importance of floral diversity and shrubby plants for the maintenance of rich bee communities in Mediterranean agricultural landscapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insects-Environment Interaction)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Determining Effects of Winter Weather Conditions on Adult Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae) Survival in Connecticut and Maine, USA
Insects 2020, 11(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11010013 - 21 Dec 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum L.) is native to the United States, with its primary range encompassing the Southeast and portions of the Midwest. It is an aggressive ectoparasite that actively seeks out hosts through detection of carbon dioxide and vibrations [...] Read more.
The lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum L.) is native to the United States, with its primary range encompassing the Southeast and portions of the Midwest. It is an aggressive ectoparasite that actively seeks out hosts through detection of carbon dioxide and vibrations and can transfer ehrlichiosis-causing bacteria as well as a carbohydrate that causes alpha-gal syndrome (red meat allergy) in humans. It has become of increasing concern as its range has recently expanded into coastal regions of the Northeast. Historically, harsh northeastern winter weather conditions made these areas inhospitable for A. americanum survival, but a warming climate coupled with increased host availability seem to have facilitated their range expansion. We developed a study to observe the effects of weather conditions on adult A. americanum overwintering survival. The study was conducted over three years in Connecticut and Maine. Ground-level conditions were manipulated to determine the effects of differing combinations of natural insulative barriers (leaf litter and snow accumulation) on adult A. americanum survival. We determined that there was a significant difference in survival between the two states, between years in Maine, and between sexes within Connecticut. However, presence or absence of snow and/or leaf litter had no impact on survival. Overall, we found a positive correlation between mean hourly temperature and adult survival in Maine, where temperatures were consistently below freezing. The results of this study can be included in an adaptive, predictive analytic model to accommodate the expected fluctuations and range expansion of A. americanum that will most likely accompany an increase in temperatures throughout the Northeast. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
The Power of Electropenetrography in Enhancing Our Understanding of Host Plant-Vector Interactions
Insects 2019, 10(11), 407; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10110407 - 15 Nov 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
The invasive Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Liviidae), is the primary vector of the phloem-infecting bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. Candidatus L. asiaticus is the putative causal agent of Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, a destructive disease of Citrus. While many Citrus species are [...] Read more.
The invasive Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Liviidae), is the primary vector of the phloem-infecting bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. Candidatus L. asiaticus is the putative causal agent of Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, a destructive disease of Citrus. While many Citrus species are susceptible to D. citri probing and HLB disease, there are marked behavioral differences in D. citri probing responses and Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus infection severity among Citrus species. Using four mandarin hybrid selections and pummelo plants variably resistant to D. citri probing, oviposition, and survival, we explored probing differences using electropenetrography (EPG), conducted an oviposition and survival study, and determined host plant metabolites using gas-chromatography mass-spectroscopy (GC-MS). We found thirty-seven D. citri probing variables to be significantly different among tested mandarin selections and pummelo, in addition to differential oviposition and survivorship abilities on tested plants. We found sixty-three leaf metabolites with eight being significantly different among tested mandarin selections and pummelo. Detailed analysis of probing behavior, oviposition, survivorship, and host plant metabolite concentrations reveals the complex, layered resistance mechanisms utilized by resistant Citrus against D. citri probing. EPG is a powerful technology for screening Asian citrus psyllid resistant Citrus to elucidate host plant-vector interactions, with an aim to minimize vector probing and eliminate the spread of the bacterial pathogen, Ca. L. asiaticus. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Evaluation of a Push-Pull System for the Management of Frankliniella Species (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) in Tomato
Insects 2018, 9(4), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040187 - 07 Dec 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
A push-pull strategy for reducing populations of the thrips Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande), F. bispinosa (Morgan) and F. tritici (Fitch) in tomato was evaluated. Push components consisted of ultraviolet (UV)-reflective mulch and foliar applications of kaolin and the pull component consisted of the companion [...] Read more.
A push-pull strategy for reducing populations of the thrips Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande), F. bispinosa (Morgan) and F. tritici (Fitch) in tomato was evaluated. Push components consisted of ultraviolet (UV)-reflective mulch and foliar applications of kaolin and the pull component consisted of the companion plant Bidens alba (L.). Replicated field experiments were conducted in 2011 and 2012. Adult and larval thrips were reduced by UV-reflective mulch during early and mid-flowering of tomato. Spray applications of kaolin were effective in reducing adult and larval thrips during early, mid- and late-flowering. The pull effects of the B. alba companion plants were additive and sometimes interactive with the push effects of UV-reflective mulch and kaolin in reducing the adult males of each thrips species and the females of F. bispinosa. The strategy was not effective in reducing the adult females of F. tritici and F. occidentalis. In addition to attracting the Frankliniella species adults, the companion plants were hosts for the thrips predator Orius insidiosus (Say). The companion plants combined with UV-reflective mulch and kaolin proved effective as a push-pull system for suppressing flower thrips, including F. occidentalis which is a serious pest of tomato worldwide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Invasive Insect Species Modelling and Control)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
First Record of an Invasive Fruit Fly Belonging to Bactrocera dorsalis Complex (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Europe
Insects 2018, 9(4), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040182 - 03 Dec 2018
Cited by 26
Abstract
Emerging pests are increasingly threatening fruit orchard health across the Mediterranean area. Tephritidae, representing serious threats for Europe, are numerous, and the fruit flies Bactrocera zonata and those belonging to Bactrocera dorsalis complex are among the most alarming species. These species are highly [...] Read more.
Emerging pests are increasingly threatening fruit orchard health across the Mediterranean area. Tephritidae, representing serious threats for Europe, are numerous, and the fruit flies Bactrocera zonata and those belonging to Bactrocera dorsalis complex are among the most alarming species. These species are highly polyphagous and B. zonata has already spread to some Mediterranean countries. Due to these ongoing threats, in the Campania Region (southern Italy), a survey with traps and infested fruits analysis was performed with the aim of detecting the presence of species of Bactrocera dorsalis complex. In two mixed fruit-trees fields, some adults belonging to a species of Bactrocera were captured in traps baited with the highly attractive male lure (methyl eugenol). They were distinguished from similar-looking Bactrocera spp. by morphological and molecular comparative analyses. Considering the existing morphological keys, specimens were tentatively identified as B. dorsalis but molecular characterization with COI split them into two clades. Some specimens were grouped with B. dorsalis similar to B. kandiensis and B. kandiensis and others in a clade including B. dorsalis and B. invadens (syn. B. dorsalis). ITS1 sequences instead confirmed morphological identification. The integrative approach allowed identifying all the specimens collected as belonging to the B. dorsalis complex. This finding represents the first field interception in Europe of a member of one of the most dangerous groups of fruit flies. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Distribution and Relative Abundance of Insect Vectors of Xylella fastidiosa in Olive Groves of the Iberian Peninsula
Insects 2018, 9(4), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040175 - 01 Dec 2018
Cited by 28
Abstract
The phytosanitary emergency caused by the spread of Xylella fastidiosa in the Mediterranean has raised demands for a better understanding of the ecology of its presumed and candidate insect vectors. Here, we present the results of a two-year survey carried out in olive [...] Read more.
The phytosanitary emergency caused by the spread of Xylella fastidiosa in the Mediterranean has raised demands for a better understanding of the ecology of its presumed and candidate insect vectors. Here, we present the results of a two-year survey carried out in olive groves across southern, eastern and Central Spain and northeastern Portugal. Several sampling methods were tested and compared to select the most appropriate to estimate population levels of potential vectors of X. fastidiosa. The spittlebugs Philaenus spumarius and Neophilaenus campestris (Hemiptera: Aphrophoridae) were the main species associated with olive groves. Both species were widely present on herbaceous ground vegetation within the olive groves; P. spumarius mainly associated with Asteraceae and N. campestris with Poaceae. Due to the patchy distribution of spittlebugs within the olive groves, sweep nets were the most effective and least time-consuming sampling method for the estimation of population size both in the ground cover and tree canopies. Trends in population density showed that spittlebugs can be abundant on ground vegetation but very rare on olive canopies. Spittlebugs disperse in late spring to non-cultivated hosts that act as natural reservoirs. In late fall, adults return to the olive groves for oviposition. However, olive trees may act as transient hosts for spittlebugs and high population densities of these insect vectors should be avoided in areas where X. fastidiosa is present. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect Monitoring and Trapping in Agricultural Systems)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Sequential Infection of Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes with Chikungunya Virus and Zika Virus Enhances Early Zika Virus Transmission
Insects 2018, 9(4), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040177 - 01 Dec 2018
Cited by 13
Abstract
In urban settings, chikungunya, Zika, and dengue viruses are transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Since these viruses co-circulate in several regions, coinfection in humans and vectors may occur, and human coinfections have been frequently reported. Yet, little is known about the molecular aspects [...] Read more.
In urban settings, chikungunya, Zika, and dengue viruses are transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Since these viruses co-circulate in several regions, coinfection in humans and vectors may occur, and human coinfections have been frequently reported. Yet, little is known about the molecular aspects of virus interactions within hosts and how they contribute to arbovirus transmission dynamics. We have previously shown that Aedes aegypti exposed to chikungunya and Zika viruses in the same blood meal can become coinfected and transmit both viruses simultaneously. However, mosquitoes may also become coinfected by multiple, sequential feeds on single infected hosts. Therefore, we tested whether sequential infection with chikungunya and Zika viruses impacts mosquito vector competence. We exposed Ae. aegypti mosquitoes first to one virus and 7 days later to the other virus and compared infection, dissemination, and transmission rates between sequentially and single infected groups. We found that coinfection rates were high after sequential exposure and that mosquitoes were able to co-transmit both viruses. Surprisingly, chikungunya virus coinfection enhanced Zika virus transmission 7 days after the second blood meal. Our data demonstrate heterologous arbovirus synergism within mosquitoes, by unknown mechanisms, leading to enhancement of transmission under certain conditions. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Chemical and Non-Chemical Options for Managing Twospotted Spider Mite, Western Tarnished Plant Bug and Other Arthropod Pests in Strawberries
Insects 2018, 9(4), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040156 - 01 Nov 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
California strawberries have two major arthropod pests—the twospotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae and the western tarnished plant bug, Lygus hesperus, which result in significant losses to the yield and quality of marketable berries. Other important insect pests that are frequently seen in [...] Read more.
California strawberries have two major arthropod pests—the twospotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae and the western tarnished plant bug, Lygus hesperus, which result in significant losses to the yield and quality of marketable berries. Other important insect pests that are frequently seen in strawberry include the greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum and the western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis that cause varying levels of damage depending on the level of infestation. Chemical pesticides play a major role in managing these pests but not without the associated risk of pesticide resistance and environmental safety. Two field studies were conducted in commercial strawberry fields in Santa Maria, one of the strawberry growing areas in California Central Coast, to determine the efficacy of chemical, botanical and microbial pesticides in the integrated pest management (IPM) of strawberry. Chemical, botanical and microbial pesticides were evaluated against T. urticae in a small plot study in 2013 and against L. hesperus and other insect pests in a large plot study in 2015 in commercial strawberry fields. Bug vacuums were also used in the 2015 study. Results demonstrated that non-chemical alternatives can play an important role in strawberry IPM. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Overwintered Drosophila suzukii Are the Main Source for Infestations of the First Fruit Crops of the Season
Insects 2018, 9(4), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040145 - 22 Oct 2018
Cited by 19
Abstract
The mechanisms allowing the widespread invasive pest Drosophila suzukii to survive from early spring until the availability of the first fruit crops are still unclear. Seasonal biology and population dynamics of D. suzukii were investigated in order to better understand the contribution of [...] Read more.
The mechanisms allowing the widespread invasive pest Drosophila suzukii to survive from early spring until the availability of the first fruit crops are still unclear. Seasonal biology and population dynamics of D. suzukii were investigated in order to better understand the contribution of the early spring hosts to the infestation of the first fruit crops of the season. We identified hosts available to D. suzukii in early spring and assessed their suitability for the pest oviposition and reproductive success under field and laboratory conditions. The natural infestation rate of one of these hosts, Aucuba japonica, was assessed over springtime and the morphology of the flies that emerged from infested A. japonica fruits was characterized under field conditions. Then, these findings were correlated with long-term monitoring data on seasonal reproductive biology and morphology of the pest, using a cumulative degree-days (DD) analysis. Field sampling revealed that overwintered D. suzukii females were physiologically able to lay eggs at 87 DD which coincided with the detection of the first infested early spring hosts. The latter were continuously and increasingly infested by D. suzukii eggs in nature from early spring until the end of May, in particular Aucuba japonica. Individuals emerged from most of these hosts were characterized by a poor fitness and a rather low success of emergence. In the field, only few summer morphs emerged from naturally infested A. japonica fruits around the end of May-beginning of June. However, field monitoring in orchards revealed that D. suzukii individuals consisted solely of winter morphs until mid-June. These observations indicate that overwintered D. suzukii females are the predominant source for the infestations in the first available fruit crops of the season. We discuss these findings in the context of possible pest control strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pest Control in Fruit Trees)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Plant Essential Oils Enhance Diverse Pyrethroids against Multiple Strains of Mosquitoes and Inhibit Detoxification Enzyme Processes
Insects 2018, 9(4), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040132 - 04 Oct 2018
Cited by 21
Abstract
Mosquito-borne diseases account for the deaths of approximately 700,000 people annually throughout the world, with many more succumbing to the debilitating side effects associated with these etiologic disease agents. This is exacerbated in many countries where the lack of mosquito control and resources [...] Read more.
Mosquito-borne diseases account for the deaths of approximately 700,000 people annually throughout the world, with many more succumbing to the debilitating side effects associated with these etiologic disease agents. This is exacerbated in many countries where the lack of mosquito control and resources to prevent and treat mosquito-borne disease coincide. As populations of mosquito species grow more resistant to currently utilized control chemistries, the need for new and effective chemical means for vector control is more important than ever. Previous work revealed that plant essential oils enhance the toxicity of permethrin against multiple mosquito species that are of particular importance to public health. In this study, we screened permethrin and deltamethrin in combination with plant essential oils against a pyrethroid-susceptible and a pyrethroid-resistant strain of both Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae. A number of plant essential oils significantly enhanced the toxicity of pyrethroids equal to or better than piperonyl butoxide, a commonly used synthetic synergist, in all strains tested. Significant synergism of pyrethroids was also observed for specific combinations of plant essential oils and pyrethroids. Moreover, plant essential oils significantly inhibited both cytochrome P450 and glutathione S-transferase activities, suggesting that the inhibition of detoxification contributes to the enhancement or synergism of plant essential oils for pyrethroids. This study highlights the potential of using diverse plant oils as insecticide additives to augment the efficacy of insecticidal formulations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrative Mosquito Biology: From Molecules to Ecosystems)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
An Advanced Numerical Trajectory Model Tracks a Corn Earworm Moth Migration Event in Texas, USA
Insects 2018, 9(3), 115; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9030115 - 05 Sep 2018
Cited by 10
Abstract
Many methods for trajectory simulation, such as Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT), have been developed over the past several decades and contributed greatly to our knowledge in insect migratory movement. To improve the accuracy of trajectory simulation, we developed a new numerical [...] Read more.
Many methods for trajectory simulation, such as Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT), have been developed over the past several decades and contributed greatly to our knowledge in insect migratory movement. To improve the accuracy of trajectory simulation, we developed a new numerical trajectory model, in which the self-powered flight behaviors of insects are considered and trajectory calculation is driven by high spatio-temporal resolution weather conditions simulated by the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. However, a rigorous evaluation of the accuracy of different trajectory models on simulated long-distance migration is lacking. Hence, in this study our trajectory model was evaluated by a migration event of the corn earworm moth, Helicoverpa zea, in Texas, USA on 20–22 March 1995. The results indicate that the simulated migration trajectories are in good agreement with occurrences of all pollen-marked male H. zea immigrants monitored in pheromone traps. Statistical comparisons in the present study suggest that our model performed better than the popularly-used HYSPLIT model in simulating migration trajectories of H. zea. This study also shows the importance of high-resolution atmospheric data and a full understanding of migration behaviors to the computational design of models that simulate migration trajectories of highly-flying insects. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Phenotypic Plasticity Promotes Overwintering Survival in A Globally Invasive Crop Pest, Drosophila suzukii
Insects 2018, 9(3), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9030105 - 21 Aug 2018
Cited by 22
Abstract
Spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii Matsumura, is a major pest of small fruit worldwide in temperate and subtropical growing regions. In Northern climates, D. suzukii likely overwinters locally under leaf litter and snow pack, but our understanding of the factors affecting thermal susceptibility [...] Read more.
Spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii Matsumura, is a major pest of small fruit worldwide in temperate and subtropical growing regions. In Northern climates, D. suzukii likely overwinters locally under leaf litter and snow pack, but our understanding of the factors affecting thermal susceptibility is limited. While previous investigations of thermal susceptibility in this species have employed conventional static acclimation protocols, we aimed to determine whether gradual cooling, or dynamic acclimation, may extend the limits of known thermal tolerance by more closely approximating naturally occurring shifts in temperature. First, we assessed survival among adult and pupal D. suzukii using static acclimation. Then, we re-assessed survival using a novel dynamic acclimation method. We found that while static acclimation was sufficient to induce cold tolerance, dynamic acclimation significantly improved survival at temperatures as low as −7.5 °C. Following static acclimation, the lower lethal limit of adult D. suzukii was −1.1 °C in winter morphotype (WM) adults compared to 1.7 °C in non-acclimated summer morphotype (SM) adults. Dynamic acclimation reduced the lower limit to −5 °C in SM flies. At the end of our study 50% of WM flies survived 72 h at −7.5 °C. Below 0 °C pupal survival declined significantly regardless of acclimation procedure. However, pupal acclimation improved survival outcomes significantly compared to non-acclimated pupae, suggesting that while juvenile diapause is unlikely, cold hardening likely benefits those flies which may develop into the overwintering WM population. These data suggest that the degree of cold hardening is proportional to the thermal environment, a finding previously unrecognized in this species. Given the economic impact of this pest, these data may have important implications for offseason population monitoring and management. We discuss how phenotypic plasticity may drive geographical range expansion, and the impact of climate change on the spread of this species. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceCommunication
“Sleepers” and “Creepers”: A Theoretical Study of Colony Polymorphisms in the Fungus Metarhizium Related to Insect Pathogenicity and Plant Rhizosphere Colonization
Insects 2018, 9(3), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9030104 - 17 Aug 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Different strains of Metarhizium exhibit a range of polymorphisms in colony phenotypes. These phenotypes range from highly conidiating colonies to colonies that produce relatively more mycelia and few conidia. These different phenotypes are exhibited in infected insects in the soil. In this paper, [...] Read more.
Different strains of Metarhizium exhibit a range of polymorphisms in colony phenotypes. These phenotypes range from highly conidiating colonies to colonies that produce relatively more mycelia and few conidia. These different phenotypes are exhibited in infected insects in the soil. In this paper, we provide a theoretical consideration of colony polymorphisms and suggest that these phenotypes represent a range of strategies in the soil that Metarhizium exhibits. We call these different strategies “sleepers” and “creepers”. The “sleeper” phenotype produces relatively greater amounts of conidia. We use the term “sleeper” to identify this phenotype since this strategy is to remain in the soil as conidia in a relatively metabolically inactive state until a host insect or plant encounter these conidia. The “creeper” phenotype is predominantly a mycelial phenotype. In this strategy, hyphae move through the soil until a host insect or plant is encountered. We theoretically model the costs and benefits of these phenotypic polymorphisms and suggest how evolution could possibly select for these different strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms Underlying Transmission of Insect Pathogens)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
RNA Interference-Mediated Knockdown of Male Fertility Genes in the Queensland Fruit Fly Bactrocera tryoni (Diptera: Tephritidae)
Insects 2018, 9(3), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9030096 - 10 Aug 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
The Queensland fruit fly, Bactrocera tryoni, is Australia’s most important horticultural pest. The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) has been used to control this species for decades, using radiation to sterilize males before field-release. This method of sterilization can potentially reduce the insects’ abilities [...] Read more.
The Queensland fruit fly, Bactrocera tryoni, is Australia’s most important horticultural pest. The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) has been used to control this species for decades, using radiation to sterilize males before field-release. This method of sterilization can potentially reduce the insects’ abilities to compete for mates. In this study, RNA interference (RNAi) techniques were examined for their potential to sterilize male B. tryoni without adversely affecting mating competitiveness. B. tryoni adults were injected or fed double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) targeting spermatogenesis genes (tssk1, topi and trxt); quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR analyses confirmed that transcript levels were reduced 60–80% for all three genes following injections. Feeding produced a significant gene knockdown for tssk1 and trxt after three days, but interestingly, two genes (trxt and topi) produced an excess of transcripts after 10 days of feeding. Despite these fluctuations in transcript levels, all three dsRNAs impacted the fecundity of treated males, with tssk1- and topi-dsRNA-treated males producing 75% fewer viable offspring than the negative controls. Mating competition assays demonstrated that dsRNA-treated males can actively compete with untreated males. These findings suggest that RNAi technology could serve as an alternative to radiation as a means of sterilizing these insects in an SIT program. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Continued Susceptibility of the wMel Wolbachia Infection in Aedes aegypti to Heat Stress Following Field Deployment and Selection
Insects 2018, 9(3), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9030078 - 30 Jun 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with the wMel strain of Wolbachia are being deployed to control the spread of arboviruses around the world through blockage of viral transmission. Blockage by Wolbachia in some scenarios may be affected by the susceptibility of wMel [...] Read more.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with the wMel strain of Wolbachia are being deployed to control the spread of arboviruses around the world through blockage of viral transmission. Blockage by Wolbachia in some scenarios may be affected by the susceptibility of wMel to cyclical heat stress during mosquito larval development. We therefore evaluated the potential to generate a heat-resistant strain of wMel in Ae. aegypti through artificial laboratory selection and through exposure to field temperatures across multiple generations. To generate an artificially selected strain, wMel-infected females reared under cyclical heat stress were crossed to wMel-infected males reared at 26 °C. The low proportion of larvae that hatched founded the next generation, and this process was repeated for eight generations. The wMel heat-selected strain (wMel-HS) was similar to wMel (unselected) in its ability to induce cytoplasmic incompatibility and restore compatibility when larvae were reared under cyclical heat stress, but wMel-HS adults exhibited reduced Wolbachia densities at 26 °C. To investigate the effects of field exposure, we compared the response of wMel-infected Ae. aegypti collected from Cairns, Australia where the infection has been established for seven years, to a wMel-infected population maintained in the laboratory for approximately 60 generations. Field and laboratory strains of wMel did not differ in their response to cyclical heat stress or in their phenotypic effects at 26 °C. The capacity for the wMel infection in Ae. aegypti to adapt to high temperatures therefore appears limited, and alternative strains may need to be considered for deployment in environments where high temperatures are regularly experienced in mosquito breeding sites. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Honey Bee Survival and Pathogen Prevalence: From the Perspective of Landscape and Exposure to Pesticides
Insects 2018, 9(2), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9020065 - 13 Jun 2018
Cited by 16
Abstract
In order to study the in situ effects of the agricultural landscape and exposure to pesticides on honey bee health, sixteen honey bee colonies were placed in four different agricultural landscapes. Those landscapes were three agricultural areas with varying levels of agricultural intensity [...] Read more.
In order to study the in situ effects of the agricultural landscape and exposure to pesticides on honey bee health, sixteen honey bee colonies were placed in four different agricultural landscapes. Those landscapes were three agricultural areas with varying levels of agricultural intensity (AG areas) and one non-agricultural area (NAG area). Colonies were monitored for different pathogen prevalence and pesticide residues over a period of one year. RT-qPCR was used to study the prevalence of seven different honey bee viruses as well as Nosema sp. in colonies located in different agricultural systems with various intensities of soybean, corn, sorghum, and cotton production. Populations of the parasitic mite Varroa destructor were also extensively monitored. Comprehensive MS-LC pesticide residue analyses were performed on samples of wax, honey, foragers, winter bees, dead bees, and crop flowers for each apiary and location. A significantly higher level of varroa loads were recorded in colonies of the AG areas, but this at least partly correlated with increased colony size and did not necessarily result from exposure to pesticides. Infections of two viruses (deformed wing virus genotype a (DWVa) and acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV)) and Nosema sp. varied among the four studied locations. The urban location significantly elevated colony pathogen loads, while AG locations significantly benefited and increased the colony weight gain. Cotton and sorghum flowers contained high concentrations of insecticide including neonicotinoids, while soybean and corn had less pesticide residues. Several events of pesticide toxicity were recorded in the AG areas, and high concentrations of neonicotinoid insecticides were detected in dead bees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stressors on Bee Health)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Host-Specific Activation of Entomopathogenic Nematode Infective Juveniles
Insects 2018, 9(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9020059 - 02 Jun 2018
Cited by 10
Abstract
Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) are potent insect parasites and have been used for pest control in agriculture. Despite the complexity of the EPN infection process, hosts are typically killed within 5 days of initial infection. When free-living infective juveniles (IJs) infect a host, they [...] Read more.
Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) are potent insect parasites and have been used for pest control in agriculture. Despite the complexity of the EPN infection process, hosts are typically killed within 5 days of initial infection. When free-living infective juveniles (IJs) infect a host, they release their bacterial symbiont, secrete toxic products, and undergo notable morphological changes. Collectively, this process is referred to as “activation” and represents the point in a nematode’s life cycle when it becomes actively parasitic. The effect of different host tissues and IJ age on activation, and how activation itself is related to virulence, are not well understood. Here, we employed a recently developed bioassay, which quantifies IJ activation, as a tool to address these matters. Appreciating that activation is a key part of the EPN infection process, we hypothesized that activation would positively correlate to virulence. Using the EPNs Steinernema carpocapsae and S. feltiae we found that EPN activation is host-specific and influenced by infective juvenile age. Additionally, our data suggest that activation has a context-dependent influence on virulence and could be predictive of virulence in some cases such as when IJ activation is especially low. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms Underlying Transmission of Insect Pathogens)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle
The Influence of Prescribed Fire, Habitat, and Weather on Amblyomma americanum (Ixodida: Ixodidae) in West-Central Illinois, USA
Insects 2018, 9(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9020036 - 22 Mar 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
The distribution of Amblyomma americanum (L.) is changing and reports of tick-borne disease transmitted by A. americanum are increasing in the USA. We used flagging to collect ticks, surveyed vegetation and collected weather data in 2015 and 2016. A. americanum dominated collections in [...] Read more.
The distribution of Amblyomma americanum (L.) is changing and reports of tick-borne disease transmitted by A. americanum are increasing in the USA. We used flagging to collect ticks, surveyed vegetation and collected weather data in 2015 and 2016. A. americanum dominated collections in both years (97%). Ticks did not differ among burn treatments; however, tick abundance differed between years among total, adult, and larval ticks. Habitat variables showed a weak negative correlation to total ticks in respect to: Shannon diversity index, percent bare ground, perennial cover, and coarse woody debris. Nymphal ticks showed a weak negative correlation to percent bare ground and fewer adults were collected in areas with more leaf litter and coarse woody debris. Conversely, we found larvae more often in areas with more total cover, biennials, vines, shrubs, and leaf litter, suggesting habitat is important for this life stage. We compared weather variables to tick presence and found, in 2015, temperature, precipitation, humidity, and sample period influenced tick collection and were life stage specific. In 2016, temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind, and sample period influenced tick collection and were also life stage specific. These results indicate that spring burns in an oak woodland do not reduce ticks; other variables such as habitat and weather are more influential on tick abundance or presence at different life stages. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Spider Communities and Biological Control in Native Habitats Surrounding Greenhouses
Insects 2018, 9(1), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9010033 - 14 Mar 2018
Cited by 16
Abstract
The promotion of native vegetation as a habitat for natural enemies, which could increase their abundance and fitness, is especially useful in highly simplified settings such as Mediterranean greenhouse landscapes. Spiders as generalist predators may also be involved in intra-guild predation. However, the [...] Read more.
The promotion of native vegetation as a habitat for natural enemies, which could increase their abundance and fitness, is especially useful in highly simplified settings such as Mediterranean greenhouse landscapes. Spiders as generalist predators may also be involved in intra-guild predation. However, the niche complementarity provided by spiders as a group means that increased spider diversity may facilitate complementary control actions. In this study, the interactions between spiders, the two major horticultural pests, Bemisia tabaci and Frankliniella occidentalis, and their naturally occurring predators and parasitoids were evaluated in a mix of 21 newly planted shrubs selected for habitat management in a highly disturbed horticultural system. The effects of all factors were evaluated using redundancy analysis (RDA) and the generalized additive model (GAM) to assess the statistical significance of abundance of spiders and pests. The GAM showed that the abundance of both pests had a significant effect on hunter spider’s abundance, whereas the abundance of B. tabaci, but not F. occidentalis, affected web-weavers’ abundance. Ordination analysis showed that spider abundance closely correlated with that of B. tabaci but not with that of F. occidentalis, suggesting that complementarity occurs, and thereby probability of biocontrol, with respect to the targeted pest B. tabaci, although the temporal patterns of the spiders differed from those of F. occidentalis. Conservation strategies involving the establishment of these native plants around greenhouses could be an effective way to reduce pest populations outdoors. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Western Corn Rootworm, Plant and Microbe Interactions: A Review and Prospects for New Management Tools
Insects 2021, 12(2), 171; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020171 - 17 Feb 2021
Abstract
The western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, is resistant to four separate classes of traditional insecticides, all Bacillius thuringiensis (Bt) toxins currently registered for commercial use, crop rotation, innate plant resistance factors, and even double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) targeting essential genes via environmental [...] Read more.
The western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, is resistant to four separate classes of traditional insecticides, all Bacillius thuringiensis (Bt) toxins currently registered for commercial use, crop rotation, innate plant resistance factors, and even double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) targeting essential genes via environmental RNA interference (RNAi), which has not been sold commercially to date. Clearly, additional tools are needed as management options. In this review, we discuss the state-of-the-art knowledge about biotic factors influencing herbivore success, including host location and recognition, plant defensive traits, plant-microbe interactions, and herbivore-pathogens/predator interactions. We then translate this knowledge into potential new management tools and improved biological control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Corn Rootworm: Biology, Ecology, Behavior and Integrated Management)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Resistance to Bt Maize by Western Corn Rootworm: Effects of Pest Biology, the Pest–Crop Interaction and the Agricultural Landscape on Resistance
Insects 2021, 12(2), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12020136 - 05 Feb 2021
Abstract
The western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, is among the most serious pests of maize in the United States. Since 2003, transgenic maize that produces insecticidal toxins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has been used to manage western corn rootworm by [...] Read more.
The western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, is among the most serious pests of maize in the United States. Since 2003, transgenic maize that produces insecticidal toxins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has been used to manage western corn rootworm by killing rootworm larvae, which feed on maize roots. In 2009, the first cases of field-evolved resistance to Bt maize were documented. These cases occurred in Iowa and involved maize that produced Bt toxin Cry3Bb1. Since then, resistance has expanded to include other geographies and additional Bt toxins, with some rootworm populations displaying resistance to all commercially available Bt traits. Factors that contributed to field-evolved resistance likely included non-recessive inheritance of resistance, minimal fitness costs of resistance and limited adult dispersal. Additionally, because maize is the primary agricultural crop on which rootworm larvae can survive, continuous maize cultivation, in particular continuous cultivation of Bt maize, appears to be another key factor facilitating resistance evolution. More diversified management of rootworm larvae, including rotating fields out of maize production and using soil-applied insecticide with non-Bt maize, in addition to planting refuges of non-Bt maize, should help to delay the evolution of resistance to current and future transgenic traits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Corn Rootworm: Biology, Ecology, Behavior and Integrated Management)
Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Range-Expansion in Processionary Moths and Biological Control
Insects 2020, 11(5), 267; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11050267 - 28 Apr 2020
Cited by 5
Abstract
Global climate change is resulting in a wide range of biotic responses, including changes in diel activity and seasonal phenology patterns, range shifts polewards in each hemisphere and/or to higher elevations, and altered intensity and frequency of interactions between species in ecosystems. Oak [...] Read more.
Global climate change is resulting in a wide range of biotic responses, including changes in diel activity and seasonal phenology patterns, range shifts polewards in each hemisphere and/or to higher elevations, and altered intensity and frequency of interactions between species in ecosystems. Oak (Thaumetopoea processionea) and pine (T. pityocampa) processionary moths (hereafter OPM and PPM, respectively) are thermophilic species that are native to central and southern Europe. The larvae of both species are gregarious and produce large silken ‘nests’ that they use to congregate when not feeding. During outbreaks, processionary caterpillars are capable of stripping foliage from their food plants (oak and pine trees), generating considerable economic damage. Moreover, the third to last instar caterpillars of both species produce copious hairs as a means of defence against natural enemies, including both vertebrate and invertebrate predators, and parasitoids. These hairs contain the toxin thaumetopoein that causes strong allergic reactions when it comes into contact with human skin or other membranes. In response to a warming climate, PPM is expanding its range northwards, while OPM outbreaks are increasing in frequency and intensity, particularly in northern Germany, the Netherlands, and southern U.K., where it was either absent or rare previously. Here, we discuss how warming and escape from co-evolved natural enemies has benefitted both species, and suggest possible strategies for biological control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology and Management of Invasive Insects in Forest Ecosystems)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Antiviral Effectors and Gene Drive Strategies for Mosquito Population Suppression or Replacement to Mitigate Arbovirus Transmission by Aedes aegypti
Insects 2020, 11(1), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11010052 - 12 Jan 2020
Cited by 9
Abstract
The mosquito vector Aedes aegypti transmits arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) of medical importance, including Zika, dengue, and yellow fever viruses. Controlling mosquito populations remains the method of choice to prevent disease transmission. Novel mosquito control strategies based on genetically manipulating mosquitoes are being developed [...] Read more.
The mosquito vector Aedes aegypti transmits arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) of medical importance, including Zika, dengue, and yellow fever viruses. Controlling mosquito populations remains the method of choice to prevent disease transmission. Novel mosquito control strategies based on genetically manipulating mosquitoes are being developed as additional tools to combat arbovirus transmission. Genetic control of mosquitoes includes two basic strategies: population suppression and population replacement. The former aims to eliminate mosquito populations while the latter aims to replace wild populations with engineered, pathogen-resistant mosquitoes. In this review, we outline suppression strategies being applied in the field, as well as current antiviral effector genes that have been characterized and expressed in transgenic Ae. aegypti for population replacement. We discuss cutting-edge gene drive technologies that can be used to enhance the inheritance of effector genes, while highlighting the challenges and opportunities associated with gene drives. Finally, we present currently available models that can estimate mosquito release numbers and time to transgene fixation for several gene drive systems. Based on the recent advances in genetic engineering, we anticipate that antiviral transgenic Ae. aegypti exhibiting gene drive will soon emerge; however, close monitoring in simulated field conditions will be required to demonstrate the efficacy and utility of such transgenic mosquitoes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Interactions of Viruses and Mosquitoes)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Soil Microarthropods and Soil Health: Intersection of Decomposition and Pest Suppression in Agroecosystems
Insects 2019, 10(12), 414; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10120414 - 20 Nov 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Two desirable functions of healthy soil are nutrient cycling and pest suppression. We review relevant literature on the contributions of soil microarthropods to soil health through their intersecting roles in decomposition and nutrient cycling and direct and indirect suppression of plant pests. Microarthropods [...] Read more.
Two desirable functions of healthy soil are nutrient cycling and pest suppression. We review relevant literature on the contributions of soil microarthropods to soil health through their intersecting roles in decomposition and nutrient cycling and direct and indirect suppression of plant pests. Microarthropods can impact soil and plant health directly by feeding on pest organisms or serving as alternate prey for larger predatory arthropods. Indirectly, microarthropods mediate the ability of crop plants to resist or tolerate insect pests and diseases by triggering induced resistance and/or contributing to optimal nutritional balance of plants. Soil fauna, including microarthropods, are key regulators of decomposition at local scales but their role at larger scales is unresolved. Future research priorities include incorporating multi-channel omnivory into food web modeling and understanding the vulnerability of soil carbon through global climate change models. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Effects of the Environmental Temperature on Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus Mosquitoes: A Review
Insects 2018, 9(4), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040158 - 06 Nov 2018
Cited by 59
Abstract
The temperature of the environment is one of the most important abiotic factors affecting the life of insects. As poikilotherms, their body temperature is not constant, and they rely on various strategies to minimize the risk of thermal stress. They have been thus [...] Read more.
The temperature of the environment is one of the most important abiotic factors affecting the life of insects. As poikilotherms, their body temperature is not constant, and they rely on various strategies to minimize the risk of thermal stress. They have been thus able to colonize a large spectrum of habitats. Mosquitoes, such as Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus, vector many pathogens, including dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses. The spread of these diseases has become a major global health concern, and it is predicted that climate change will affect the mosquitoes’ distribution, which will allow these insects to bring new pathogens to naïve populations. We synthesize here the current knowledge on the impact of temperature on the mosquito flight activity and host-seeking behavior (1); ecology and dispersion (2); as well as its potential effect on the pathogens themselves and how climate can affect the transmission of some of these pathogens (3). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrative Mosquito Biology: From Molecules to Ecosystems)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Aquatic versus Terrestrial Insects: Real or Presumed Differences in Population Dynamics?
Insects 2018, 9(4), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9040157 - 01 Nov 2018
Cited by 8
Abstract
The study of insect populations is dominated by research on terrestrial insects. Are aquatic insect populations different or are they just presumed to be different? We explore the evidence across several topics. (1) Populations of terrestrial herbivorous insects are constrained most often by [...] Read more.
The study of insect populations is dominated by research on terrestrial insects. Are aquatic insect populations different or are they just presumed to be different? We explore the evidence across several topics. (1) Populations of terrestrial herbivorous insects are constrained most often by enemies, whereas aquatic herbivorous insects are constrained more by food supplies, a real difference related to the different plants that dominate in each ecosystem. (2) Population outbreaks are presumed not to occur in aquatic insects. We report three examples of cyclical patterns; there may be more. (3) Aquatic insects, like terrestrial insects, show strong oviposition site selection even though they oviposit on surfaces that are not necessarily food for their larvae. A novel outcome is that density of oviposition habitat can determine larval densities. (4) Aquatic habitats are often largely 1-dimensional shapes and this is presumed to influence dispersal. In rivers, drift by insects is presumed to create downstream dispersal that has to be countered by upstream flight by adults. This idea has persisted for decades but supporting evidence is scarce. Few researchers are currently working on the dynamics of aquatic insect populations; there is scope for many more studies and potentially enlightening contrasts with terrestrial insects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect Population Dynamics: Theory & Practice)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Nematobacterial Complexes and Insect Hosts: Different Weapons for the Same War
Insects 2018, 9(3), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9030117 - 11 Sep 2018
Cited by 17
Abstract
Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) are widely used as biological control agents against insect pests, the efficacy of these organisms strongly depends on the balance between the parasitic strategies and the immune response of the host. This review summarizes roles and relationships between insect hosts [...] Read more.
Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) are widely used as biological control agents against insect pests, the efficacy of these organisms strongly depends on the balance between the parasitic strategies and the immune response of the host. This review summarizes roles and relationships between insect hosts and two well-known EPN species, Steinernema feltiae and Steinernema carpocapsae and outlines the main mechanisms of immune recognition and defense of insects. Analyzing information and findings about these EPNs, it is clear that these two species use shared immunosuppression strategies, mainly mediated by their symbiotic bacteria, but there are differences in both the mechanism of evasion and interference of the two nematodes with the insect host immune pathways. Based on published data, S. feltiae takes advantage of the cross reaction between its body surface and some host functional proteins, to inhibit defensive processes; otherwise, secretion/excretion products from S. carpocapsae seem to be the main nematode components responsible for the host immunosuppression. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceReview
An Advanced View on Baculovirus per Os Infectivity Factors
Insects 2018, 9(3), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9030084 - 17 Jul 2018
Cited by 25
Abstract
Baculoviruses are arthropod-specific large DNA viruses that orally infect the larvae of lepidopteran, hymenopteran and dipteran insect species. These larvae become infected when they eat a food source that is contaminated with viral occlusion bodies (OBs). These OBs contain occlusion-derived viruses (ODVs), which [...] Read more.
Baculoviruses are arthropod-specific large DNA viruses that orally infect the larvae of lepidopteran, hymenopteran and dipteran insect species. These larvae become infected when they eat a food source that is contaminated with viral occlusion bodies (OBs). These OBs contain occlusion-derived viruses (ODVs), which are released upon ingestion of the OBs and infect the endothelial midgut cells. At least nine different ODV envelope proteins are essential for this oral infectivity and these are denoted per os infectivity factors (PIFs). Seven of these PIFs form a complex, consisting of PIF1, 2, 3 and 4 that form a stable core complex and PIF0 (P74), PIF6 and PIF8 (P95) that associate with this complex with lower affinity than the core components. The existence of a PIF complex and the fact that the pif genes are conserved in baculovirus genomes suggests that PIF-proteins cooperatively mediate oral infectivity rather than as individual functional entities. This review therefore discusses the knowledge obtained for individual PIFs in light of their relationship with other members of the PIF complex. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms Underlying Transmission of Insect Pathogens)
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