Temporal changes in olfactory and oviposition responses of the diamondback moth to herbivore-induced host plants

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Abstract

Temporal changes in the pre- and post-alighting responses of mated female diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella L. (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae), to two species of Brassica (Brassicaceae) host plants induced by larval feeding were studied using olfactometer and oviposition assays. Females displayed strong olfactory and oviposition preferences for herbivore-induced common cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata L. cv. sugarloaf) plants over intact plants; these preferences decreased with time and disappeared by the 7th day after induction. In herbivore-induced common cabbage plants, eggs were clustered near feeding damage on the younger leaves (leaves 5–7), whereas in intact plants, eggs were clustered on the stem and lower leaves (leaves 1–4). However, as the time interval between larval feeding and oviposition increased, more eggs were laid on the lower leaves of induced plants. This demonstrates a change in egg distribution from the pattern associated with induced plants to that associated with intact plants. In contrast, females displayed strong olfactory and oviposition preferences for intact Chinese cabbage [Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis (Lour.) Hanelt cv. Wombok] plants over induced plants; these preferences decreased with time and disappeared by the 5th day after induction. More eggs were laid on the upper leaves (leaves 4–6) than on the lower leaves (leaves 1–3) of intact Chinese cabbage plants at first, but the distribution changed over time until there were no significant differences in the egg count between upper and lower leaves by the 4th day post induction. For both host plant species, pre-alighting responses of moths were reliable indicators of post-alighting responses on the first 2 days post induction. The results suggest that temporal changes in a plant's profile (chemical or otherwise) following herbivory may influence attractiveness to an insect herbivore and be accompanied by changes in olfactory and oviposition preferences.

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