Results in Journal Insects: 1,904
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Insects, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/insects11110741
Atta grass-cutting ants (Formicidae: Myrmicinae: Attini) are found in the Cerrado biome and build giant nests with hundreds or thousands of large chambers. We assessed for Atta bisphaerica grass-cutting ants whether the total volume of fungus chambers and other nest parameters grow at close or similar proportions to worker numbers in the colony. Data on fungus garden biomass, population, external area, number of entrance holes, number of fungus chambers, total fungus chambers volume, and nest depth were obtained during colony growth/nest development. Our results reveal that the fungus garden biomass, external area, and total fungus chamber volume increased at rates similar to the increase in the number of workers. The total volume of chambers, and external area increased at a similar proportion to the increase in number of workers, probably due to the fungus garden allocation needs of the colony. The number of fungus chambers, number of entrance holes, and nest depth increased less than 4-fold for every 10-fold increase in the worker number. In addition, the height of the fungus chambers increased as the width increased, a pattern not observed for tunnel height and length, and the chamber volume increased according to worker number. Thus, this study demonstrates for A. bisphaerica that nest development in terms of chamber volume is similar to the increase in number of colony workers, and this contributes to a better understanding of Atta nest architecture.
Insects, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/insects11110743
Phytosterols are important micronutrients that are precursors of important molting hormones and help maintain cellular membrane integrity in insects including bees. Previous research has shown that 24-methylenecholesterol is a key phytosterol that enhances honey bee longevity and improves nurse bee physiology. Nurse bees have the ability to selectively transfer this sterol to developing larvae through brood food. This study examines the physiological impacts of 24-methylenecholesterol on nurse bees, by analyzing the protein profiles of nurse bee heads upon dietary sterol manipulation. Dietary experimental groups consisting of newly emerged honey bees were provided with varying concentrations of 24-methylenecholesterol for three weeks. At the end of the study, honey bees were collected and proteomic analysis was performed on honey bee heads. A total of 1715 proteins were identified across experimental groups. The mean relative abundances of nutritional marker proteins (viz. major royal jelly proteins 1, 4, 5, 7) were higher in experimental groups supplemented with higher dietary sterol concentrations, when compared with the control dietary group. The mean relative abundances of important enzymatic proteins (aminopeptidase and calcium-transporting ATPase) were higher in control groups, whereas mean relative abundances of oxysterol-binding protein and fatty acid-binding protein were higher in higher dietary sterol groups.
Insects, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/insects11110744
Organic crop production systems are designed to enhance or preserve the presence of natural enemies, including parasitoids and predators, by means of conservation biological control, which involves providing environments and habitats that sustain natural enemy assemblages. Conservation biological control can be accomplished by providing flowering plants (floral resources) that will attract and retain natural enemies. Natural enemies, in turn, will regulate existing insect pest populations to levels that minimize plant damage. However, evidence is not consistent, based on the scientific literature, that providing natural enemies with flowering plants will result in an abundance of natural enemies sufficient to regulate insect pest populations below economically damaging levels. The reason that conservation biological control has not been found to sufficiently regulate insect pest populations in organic crop production systems across the scientific literature is associated with complex interactions related to intraguild predation, the emission of plant volatiles, weed diversity, and climate and ecosystem resources across locations where studies have been conducted.
Insects, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/insects11110742
Models to forecast slug populations make assumptions about growth and mortality in response to environmental factors. To refine these models, the growth trajectories and survival of Deroceras reticulatum, a worldwide pest, hatching in spring and autumn were compared at three rearing temperatures (ambient, 12 °C and 15 °C). Deroceras reticulatum reared under identical conditions showed great variation in growth and strong bimodality in growth rates. At all rearing temperatures, growth was influenced by hatching season; in all cases, fast growers dominated in autumn and slow growers dominated in spring. Survival was influenced by hatching season: autumn-born slugs survived better at ambient temperatures, but spring-born slugs had better survival at 15 °C. Deroceras reticulatum may be partitioned into ”slow growers” and ”fast growers”. Fast growers responded to warmer conditions, growing to large sizes. Slow growers, in contrast, gained weight at comparable rates to ambient reared slugs, regardless of the elevated constant temperatures. The peaks of slug activity in autumn and spring are possibly not distinct generations as some slugs may mature early/late and slip into the alternative cohort. Rather, the observed autumn and spring peaks in slug numbers may be a response of a mixed-age population to the favourable environmental conditions at that time.
Insects, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/insects11110738
The slug, Arion vulgaris Moquin-Tandon, 1855, is a serious pest in agriculture and private gardens. White worm, Enchytraeus albidus Henle, 1837, is an important model of decomposer organism in the terrestrial ecosystem. Saponins, which are secondary metabolites of plants, have previously been shown to have some molluscicidal effect. We investigated which doses of saponins are lethal to the slug, A. vulgaris, and to the non-target organism, E. albidus. An aqueous solution with different concentrations of saponin extract from the bark of the soap tree, Quillaja saponaria Mol., was used in repeat treatments. Slugs were tested in filter paper contact tests as they are naturally exposed to soil contact while crawling. Worms were tested in soil contact tests as they live below ground. It was found that lethality of saponins depends on the slug age group and the environmental temperature. The median lethal concentration (LC50, at 15 °C) on adults was 68.5 g/L, and on juveniles, 96.9 g/L. The slugs were significantly more sensitive at 2 and −1 °C compared to 15 °C. The LC50 (at 6 ℃) on E. albidus was 2.7 g/L (or 0.5 g/kg dry weight of soil), far below those in A. vulgaris (at 15 ℃ and lower). The LC50 for worms at -1℃ was also significantly lower than at 6 ℃. Therefore, we can conclude: (1) that Q. saponaria saponins may be a successful slug control tool used during colder times of the year, but its concentration should be selected according to the age group of A. vulgaris; (2) this measure is more toxic than expected to white worms, which limits its use.
Insects, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/insects11110740
Negative impacts on the environment from the continuous use of synthetic insecticides against mosquitoes has driven research towards more ecofriendly products. Phytochemicals, classified as low-risk substances, have been recognized as potential larvicides of mosquitoes; however, problems related to water solubility and stability are limiting factors for their use in mosquito control programs in the field. In this context, many researchers have focused on formulating essential oils in nanoemulsions, exploiting innovative nanotechnology. In the current study, we prepared 4 (R)-(+)-limonene oil-in-water nanoemulsions using low and high energy methods, and we evaluated their physicochemical characteristics (e.g., viscosity, stability, mean droplet diameter, polydispersity index) and their bioactivity against larvae of two mosquito species of great medical importance, namely, Cx. pipiens molestus and Ae. albopictus. According to the dose–response bioassays with the limonene-based nanoemulsions and pure limonene (dissolved in organic solvent), the tested nanoformulations improved the activity of limonene against Ae. albopictus larvae, while the performance of limonene was either the same or better than limonene against Cx. pipiens molestus, depending on the applied system. Overall, we achieved the production of limonene-based delivery nanosystems, with sufficient lethal properties against mosquito larvae to consider them promising larvicidal formulations applicable to mosquito breeding sites.
Insects, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/insects11110739
The grape mealybug Pseudococcus maritimus (Ehrhorn, 1900) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) is a significant pest of grapevines (Vitis spp.) and a vector of disease-causing grape viruses, linked to its feeding on phloem sap. The management of this pest is constrained by the lack of naturally occurring resistance traits in Vitis. Here, we obtained proof of concept that RNA interference (RNAi) using double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) molecules against essential genes for phloem sap feeding can depress insect survival. The genes of interest code for an aquaporin (AQP) and a sucrase (SUC) that are required for osmoregulation in related phloem sap-feeding hemipteran insects (aphids and whiteflies). In parallel, we investigated the grape mealybug genes coding non-specific nucleases (NUC), which reduce RNAi efficacy by degrading administered dsRNA. Homologs of AQP and SUC with experimentally validated function in aphids, together with NUC, were identified in the published transcriptome of the citrus mealybug Planococcus citri by phylogenetic analysis, and sequences of the candidate genes were obtained for Ps. maritimus by PCR with degenerate primers. Using this first sequence information for Ps. maritimus, dsRNA was prepared and administered to the insects via an artificial diet. The treatment comprising dsRNA against AQP, SUC and NUC significantly increased insect mortality over three days, relative to dsRNA-free controls. The dsRNA constructs for AQP and NUC were predicted, from sequence analysis to have some activity against other mealybugs, but none of the three dsRNA constructs have predicted activity against aphids. This study provides the basis to develop in planta RNAi strategies against Ps. maritimus and other mealybug pests of grapevines.
Insects, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/insects11110733
A series of laboratory and field experiments were performed to assess the responses of Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) and other stored-product beetles to pheromone-baited traps and trap components. A commercial Tribolium pitfall trap called the Flit-Trak M2, the predecessor to the Dome trap, was superior in both laboratory and field experiments over the other floor trap designs assessed at capturing walking T. castaneum. In field experiments, Typhaea stercorea (L.) and Ahasverus advena (Stephens) both preferred a sticky trap to the pitfall trap. Although the covered trap is effective at capturing several other species of stored product beetles, the synthetic Tribolium aggregation pheromone lure is critical for the pitfall trap’s efficacy for T. castaneum. Although the food-based trapping oil used in the pitfall trap was not found to be attractive to T. castaneum when assayed alone, it had value as an enhancer of the pheromone bait when the two were used together in the trap. A dust cover modification made to go over the pitfall trap was effective in protecting the trap from dust, although the trap was still vulnerable to dust contamination from sanitation techniques that used compressed air to blow down the mill floors. Capture of T. castaneum in the modified trap performed as well as the standard trap design in a non-dusty area of a flour mill, and was significantly superior over the standard trap in a dusty area. T. castaneum responded in flight outside a flourmill preferentially to multiple funnel traps with pheromone lures compared to traps without pheromone.
Insects, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/insects11110736
The available genomic and proteomic information of non-model organisms is often underrepresented in public databases hindering their study at molecular, cellular, and physiological levels. Information on Zabrotes subfasciatus (Mexican bean weevil) is poorly represented in databases, yet it is a major pest of common beans. We report the transcriptome of Z. subfasciatus larvae; transcripts were sequenced using an Illumina RNA-Seq technology and assembled de novo identifying 29,029 unigenes with an average size of 1168 bp and an N50 value of 2196 bp. About 15,124 unigenes (52%) were functionally annotated and categorized. Further analysis revealed 30 unigene sequences encoding putative targets of the insecticidal PF2 lectin. The complete deduced amino acid sequences of eight selected proteins potentially related to insecticidal mechanism of Palo Fierro 2 (PF2) were used for predicting probable N-glycosylation sites and analyzing phylogenetic relationships with insect sequences. This work provides a dramatic increase in the genetic resources available for Coleopterans and set the basis for developing future studies on biological aspects and potential control strategies for Z. subfasciatus.
Insects, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/insects11110734
The goal of this study was to analyze the types and distributional patterns of sensilla in Corixoidea, which is part of the approach to the phylogeny study of Nepomorpha, based on the morphological characters of sensilla. This paper presents the results of the study, with the use of a scanning electron microscope (SEM), on the antennae of species from the families Corixidae and Micronectidae. The antennal sensilla of eleven species from Corixidae and two species from Micronectidae were studied. Five main types of sensilla with several subtypes of sensilla trichodea were found and described. The study has shown that the family Corixidae has a strong uniformity when it comes to antennal sensilla (similar patterns of sensilla trichodea and basiconica), and a similarity to the types and distributions of sensilla in two species of the family Micronectidae. However, significant differences between the families were also discovered (differences in sensilla presence on the first and second antennomeres, lack of sensilla coeloconica on the third antennomere in Micronectidae), which leads to a supportive conclusion of the systematic position of Micronectidae as a family.