Feeding behaviour of the greenbug Schizaphis graminum on wheat plants treated with imidacloprid and/or silicon


Jair C. Moraes (corresponding author), Department of Entomology, Universidade Federal de Lavras, Cx. Postal 37, 37200-000, Lavras, MG, Brazil. E-mail: jcmoraes@ufla.br


The greenbug Schizaphis graminum (Rond.) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) is one of the principal pests of Triticum aestivum L. and may be responsible for the injection of toxins, the transmission of viral infections and, ultimately, plant death. The aphid can be controlled by the use of selective insecticides or with the application of silicon. The objective of the present study was to investigate the influence of imidacloprid and silicon on the feeding behaviour of S. graminum on wheat plants. Aphids collected from and reared on sorghum plants were maintained in a growth room at 25 ± 2°C; 12 h photoperiod. Seeds of the wheat cultivar EMBRAPA 22 were planted in plastic pots containing a commercially available soil substrate and thinned out 8 days after sowing to leave two vigorously growing seedlings in each pot. Four treatments (each replicated 25 times) were applied: (i) seeds were treated with imidacloprid (36 g/100 kg) 1 day prior to sowing; (ii) silicon (50 ml of 1% silicic acid; equivalent to a dose of 1000 kg of silicon/ha) was applied directly to the substrate 10 days after plant emergence; (iii) the described treatments with imidacloprid and silicon were applied jointly; and (iv) neither seeds nor substrate were treated (untreated controls). Electrical penetration graph assays were performed 15, 30 and 45 days after plant emergence. The results showed that wheat seed treatment with imidacloprid and/or the application of silicon to the substrate reduced both the feeding time of S. graminum and the percentage of insects that fed on phloem sap. Moreover, this study provides further support that the action of silicon may not be restricted to physical resistance (constitutive or induced) but may also involve induced plant chemical defence.