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Keywords:

  • Bemisia tabaci;
  • Homoptera;
  • Aleyrodidae;
  • imidacloprid;
  • antifeedant;
  • behaviour;
  • acetylcholine receptor;
  • choice test;
  • honeydew excretion

Abstract

The effects of sublethal dosages of the chloronicotinyl insecticide imidacloprid on different strains of the tobacco whitefly, Bemisia tabaci Gennadius (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae), have been studied after leaf dip and systemic application. All bioassays were performed with the insecticide susceptible strain, SUD-S, and two Spanish biotypes, ALM-2 and LMPA-2, both resistant to conventional insecticides and with a lower susceptibility towards imidacloprid. Honeydew, excreted by all strains feeding on treated and untreated cotton leaf discs was quantified by photometric analysis of its carbohydrate content. EC50-values for the depression of honeydew excretion in female adults after systemic application of imidacloprid were calculated at 0.037 ppm, 0.027 ppm and 0.048 ppm for strains SUD-S, ALM-2 and LMPA-2, respectively, indicating no significant differences between strains in feeding behaviour throughout an 48 h testing period. Depending on the strain these EC50-values were 150- to 850-times lower than LC50-values calculated for mortality in the same bioassay. Starvation tests revealed mean survival times of >48 h for female adults placed on agar without leaf discs, indicating that sublethal dosages of imidacloprid which caused antifeedant responses, were probably not covered in common 48 h systemic bioassays, used to monitor resistance to imidacloprid. Effects of sublethal dosages on honeydew excretion after leaf dip application seem to be minor. In choice situations with systemically treated and untreated leaf discs in a single container, female adults of B. tabaci showed a clear preference for the untreated leaf discs. However, when using leaf discs treated by painting the surface with imidacloprid in the same bioassay, feeding activities on treated and untreated leaf discs were not significantly different. The results of the present study demonstrate the antifeedant properties of imidacloprid on B. tabaci, which might play an essential role after soil application or seed treatment under field conditions.