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Journal of Entomology
Year: 2008  |  Volume: 5  |  Issue: 2  |  Page No.: 103 - 112

Attraction of Zonocerus variegatus (Orthoptera: Pyrgomorphidae) to Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids: A Potential Novel Approach to its Management

J.A. Timbilla, K. Yeboah-Gyan and B.W. Lawson    

Abstract: The increasing importance of dry season populations of the African polyphagous grasshopper, Z. variegatus as a pest in agriculture and forestry has been attributed to the sequestration of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) from the flowers of the exotic noxious weed Chromolaena odorata for defense against natural enemies and protection of its diapausing eggs. This phenomenon is, however, seen as a novel opportunity to lure the insect with PAs for the development of PA-based attracticides for its management. This, notwithstanding, there is no empirical data on the efficacy of the available PA containing plants and the stage (s) of Z. variegatus worth targeting for the development of an integrated management strategy. Four categories of the growth stages of Z. variegatus were evaluated for the extent of migration to the roots of C. odorata, Heliotropium indicum and Crotalaria retusa which are plants containing PAs. Subsequently, fifth instar hoppers of Z. variegatus were evaluated for their attraction to the dry and fresh roots and flowers of C. odorata with a blank control in the laboratory. The results showed that 300 g of the dry chopped roots of C. odorata hold promise for use as PA-lures for the development of PA-based attracticides. The 3rd to 6th instar larvae of Z. variegatus have the highest degree of attraction to PAs. Also, the roots of C. odorata stored for a year are effective lures for the grasshopper while the flowers lose their attractive principle after 24 h. The results raise hope for the cost efficient and sustainable management of the grasshopper to salvage the agriculture and timber industries in Ghana and the sub region.

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