Mating compatibility and competitiveness between wild and laboratory strains of Eldana saccharina (Lepidoptera : Pyralidae) after radiation treatment

Mudavanhu, Pride ; Addison, Pia ; Carpenter, James E. ; Conlong, Des E. (2016)

CITATION: Mudavanhu, P., et al. 2016. Mating compatibility and competitiveness between wild and laboratory strains of Eldana saccharina (Lepidoptera : Pyralidae) after radiation treatment. Florida Entomologist, 99(1):54-65.

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The efficacy of the sterile insect technique (SIT) applied as part of area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM) depends on efficient transfer of sperm carrying dominant lethal mutations from sterile males to wild females. Success or failure of this strategy is therefore critically dependent on quality and ability of sterile males to search for and copulate with wild females. The African sugarcane borer, Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) is an economic pest of sugarcane targeted for control in South Africa using an AW-IPM approach with a SIT component. As part of further steps towards development of the technique, levels of mating competitiveness and compatibility were assessed by observing the extent to which individuals from different populations interbreed when confined together under both laboratory and semi-field conditions. Three types of pair-wise competition experiments were conducted: non-irradiated laboratory adults vs. non-irradiated wild adults, irradiated (200 Gy) laboratory adults vs. non-irradiated wild adults, and non-irradiated laboratory adults vs. irradiated (200 Gy) laboratory adults. Data from these tests were used to generate indices for mating performance and measuring sexual compatibility between strains. Irrespective of trial location, wild moths did not discriminate against irradiated or laboratory-reared moths, indicating no negative effects on acceptability for mating due to laboratory rearing or radiation treatment. In general, irradiated males mated significantly more than their wild counterparts regardless of the type of female, which indicated that they were still as competitive as their wild counterparts. The mating indices generated showed no evidence of incipient pre-mating isolation barriers or sexual incompatibility with the wild strain. Data presented in this paper therefore indicate that there is scope for further development of the SIT as an addition to the arsenal of tactics available for AW-IPM of this economic pest.

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