Effects of temperature on the feeding behavior of Alabama argillacea (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) on Bt and non-Bt cotton plants

ABSTRACT The host acceptance behavior and environmental factors as temperature affect the feeding behavior of Lepidoptera pests. Thus, they must be considered in studies about the risk potential of resistance evolution. The current study sets the differences in the feeding behavior of neonate Alabama argillacea (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) larvae exposed to Bt and non-Bt cotton plants, under different temperatures and time gap after hatching. Two cotton cultivars were used: the Bt (DP 404 BG - bollgard) and the non-transformed isoline, DP 4049. We found that the feeding behavior of neonate A. argillacea is significantly different between Bt and non-Bt cotton. Based on the number of larvae with vegetal tissue in their gut found on the plant and in the organza as well as on the amount of vegetal tissue ingested by the larvae. A. argillacea shows feeding preference for non-Bt cotton plants, in comparison to that on the Bt. However, factors such as temperature and exposure time may affect detection capacity and plant abandonment by the larvae and it results in lower ingestion of vegetal tissue. Such results are relevant to handle the resistance of Bt cotton cultivars to A. argillacea and they also enable determining how the cotton seeds mix will be a feasible handling option to hold back resistance evolution in A. argillacea populations on Bt cotton, when it is compared to other refuge strategies. The results can also be useful to determine which refuge distribution of plants is more effective for handling Bt cotton resistance to A. argillacea.