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Responses to colour and host odour cues in three cereal pest species, in the context of ecology and control

  • S.E.J. Arnold (a1), P.C. Stevenson (a1) (a2) and S.R. Belmain (a1)


Many insects show a greater attraction to multimodal cues, e.g. odour and colour combined, than to either cue alone. Despite the potential to apply the knowledge to improve control strategies, studies of multiple stimuli have not been undertaken for stored product pest insects. We tested orientation towards a food odour (crushed white maize) in combination with a colour cue (coloured paper with different surface spectral reflectance properties) in three storage pest beetle species, using motion tracking to monitor their behaviour. While the maize weevil, Sitophilus zeamais (Motsch.), showed attraction to both odour and colour stimuli, particularly to both cues in combination, this was not observed in the bostrichid pests Rhyzopertha dominica (F.) (lesser grain borer) or Prostephanus truncatus (Horn) (larger grain borer). The yellow stimulus was particularly attractive to S. zeamais, and control experiments showed that this was neither a result of the insects moving towards darker-coloured areas of the arena, nor their being repelled by optical brighteners in white paper. Visual stimuli may play a role in location of host material by S. zeamais, and can be used to inform trap design for the control or monitoring of maize weevils. The lack of visual responses by the two grain borers is likely to relate to their different host-seeking behaviours and ecological background, which should be taken into account when devising control methods.


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