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Day-night temperature differential, rather than mean temperature, determines age of sexual maturation in Straicosta albicosta (Noctuidae)

Konopka, Joanna K., McNeil, Jeremy N.
Journal of insect physiology 2017 v.103 pp. 86-90
Richia albicosta, flight, humidity, insect flight, moths, multivoltine habit, pheromone traps, photophase, rearing, scotophase, selection pressure, sex pheromones, sexual maturity, summer, temperature, univoltine habit, virgin females
While pheromone traps have been effectively used to monitor the recent range expansion of the western bean cutworm (WBC), very little is known about the pheromone mediated reproductive biology of this species. The age at which females initiated calling (the behaviour associated with the release of the sex pheromone), and the pattern of calling on the first three nights following sexual maturation were determined for virgin females held under four temperature regimes (25:20; 25:15; 20:15; 20:10 °C L:D and 16L:8D photoperiod), and two RH (60 and 80%). Regardless of the rearing conditions the pre-calling period (PCP) was always several days post emergence, supporting the hypothesis that WCB is a migrant species. However, surprisingly the length of the PCP was not directly related to mean temperature but rather to the temperature differential between the photophase and the scotophase. The duration of calling increased with female age, but unlike in other moths was not affected by the abiotic factors tested. The relative insensitivity to temperature and humidity, when compared with many other moth species, may be related to the WBC being a univoltine species with a mid-summer flight period. Consequently, there would not be strong selection pressure for plasticity in calling behavior when compared with the case of multivoltine species that experience a wide range of environmental conditions during different seasonal flight periods.