Feeding and oviposition preferences of the diamondback moth Plutella xylostella (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae) on six Brassicaceae host plant species
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Plutella xylostella (diamondback moth, DBM) is a globally distributed Lepidopteran that feeds and oviposits almost exclusively on plants in the Brassicaceae family. DBM disperses from the southern United States and Mexico into Canada in the spring and summer. Establishment of DBM in Ontario is partially dependent upon the quantity and quality of host plants available and the preference of DBM for different hosts. Host plants include many crops such as broccoli, canola and cabbage, as well as landscape ornamentals and wild plants. It has previously been established that DBM are attracted to host plants by chemicals, specifically glucosinolates. I examined the preference of DBM among crop, wild and ornamental host plant species and how preference varies with insect life stage (3rd and 4th instar larvae and adults). Experiments included exposing DBM larvae from five populations coming from different locations in Canada to six Brassicaceae species and evaluating the preferences and weight gain over one hour. Then adult females were exposed to these same plant species and their oviposition preferences were examined. Populations from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario were compared to assess differences in preference associated with geographic region or species of host plant. The ultimate goal of my study was to understand the potential of various Brassicaceae species to act as reservoirs to sustain and promote population growth of DBM, as well as sinks that may decrease DBM abundance. Results showed that garden cress (Lepidium sativum) was highly preferred over other species (wintercress, black mustard, aubretia, broccoli and ornamental kale) for both food and oviposition sources. Previous studies report that garden cress contains saponins, chemicals shown to be toxic to developing DBM larvae, however no studies have yet shown a preference for garden cress. These results provide information on a novel host plant with the potential to control DBM population growth. No difference in preferences was found among populations of DBM from various sources in Canada.