Stalk borers are highly destructive to a large number of important graminaceous crops all over the world. Some examples of economically important stalk borers and a general description of their life-cycle are mentioned in chapter 1. In the same chapter difficulties in controlling the insects are described. The crucial role of aestivation- diapause in the life history of tropical stalk borers is elucidated and the importance of further research on this subject is demonstrated.
Aestivation-diapause in two Pyralid stalk borers, Chilopartellus
(Swinhoe) and Chilo orichalcociliella
(Strand) was investigated under field and laboratory conditions.
The relation between diapause and climate during three consecutive years is described in chapter 2. Yearly and seasonal fluctuations in the larval and pupal populations of the two stalk borers in maize appeared to be considerable. As long as the water conditions for plant growth were suitable, insects had a continuous development. Under these conditions larvae had pigmented spots and could not survive dry conditions. Soon after cessation of the rains (or irrigation) rates of pupation decreased. At that time larvae lost their cuticular pigmentation and became resistant to drought. Comparison of the incidence of aestivation in the field with the prevailing climatic conditions showed that only lack of rain could be associated with the arrested larval development. No effects of temperature, relative humidity or photoperiod could be found. These results indicate that the host plant may be involved in the induction of diapause.
Chapter 3 is concerned with characteristics of pre-diapause and diapause larvae. Evidence was obtained that under natural conditions larvae do not feed during diapause as long as they are not disturbed. The physiological condition of field-collected stem borer larvae changed considerably upon entering diapause: a decreased rate of oxygen consumption, rate of heart beat and water content, an increased fat content, and arrested development of the testes were found. These changes normally occurred before larvae were turning unspotted and/or were becoming resistant to drought.
The condition of the host plant in relation to diapause induction is described in chapter 4. Diapause could be induced inside maize plants of different developmental stages. It was shown that the first (physiological) signs of the diapause syndrome appear in larvae feeding in stems containing 70-80% water and very little (< 1.3% of the fresh wt.) protein. The considerable variation in the sugar content of stems containing pre-diapause larvae suggests that sugar is not important in the induction of diapause.
Marked differences were found in the consumption and utilization of stems of maize plants in different developmental stages. Its possible relevance to diapause is discussed.
In chapter 5 experiments are described on the induction of aestivation-diapause by varying the food condition. Most early 5th instar larvae of C. partellus
entered diapause after being introduced into aged maize stems containing 75% water, 8% sugar and 1.3% protein (fresh wt.). Pupation rate, cuticular pigmentation, QO 2
and water content of these larvae were
comparable to values obtained from field-collected aestivating larvae. Larvae which had developed beyond the early 5th instar were less sensitive to the diapause inducing factors of the aged maize stem : most of them pupated.
Test of 30 different diets with varying protein, sugar and water contents, indicated that diets containing 0.9-1.1% protein and 70% water were best in inducing diapause. Early 5th instar larvae on diets with the above mentioned protein content grew slowly (but reached normal weights), moulted into the unspotted form and had a retarded rate of pupation. Larvae on diets with lower protein contents hardly developed at all, whereas on diets with higher protein contents larvae pupated normally. Larvae reared on diets in which the water content had been reduced from the normal level of 86% to 70%, resulted in a
reduction of the larval water content and respiratory rate, close to values normal for field-collected diapause larvae. Evidence was obtained that larvae reared on diapause inducing diets attained a certain degree of drought resistance. Early 5th instar or younger larvae were the most sensitive stages to diapause induction by diet.
Many larvae on aged maize stems and artificial diets turned unspotted even though pupating soon thereafter. The relevance of the cuticular pigmentation as a criterion for aestivation-diapause is discussed.
The endocrine involvement in the aestivation- diapause is described in chapter 6. From juvenile hormone titre determinations and ligation experiments evidence was obtained that the diapause is regulated by an intermediate level of JH. Application of JH to non-diapause larvae prevented pupation of these larvae but did not evoke other aspects of the diapause syndrome.