A chamber to monitor mole cricket behavior was designed using two different soil-filled containers and photosensors constructed from infrared emitters and detectors. Mole crickets (Scapteriscus spp.) were introduced into a center tube that allowed them to choose whether to enter and tunnel in untreated soil or soil treated with Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo) Vuillemin. Each time the cricket passed through the photosensor located near the entrance of soil-filled containers, the infrared light was blocked and the exact moment that this occurred was logged onto a computer using custom-written software. Data examined included the first photosensor trigger, total number of sensor triggers, presence of tunneling, and final location of the cricket after 18 h. These behaviors were analyzed to discern differences in mole cricket behavior in the presence of different treatments and to elucidate the mechanism that mole crickets use to detect fungal pathogens. The first study examined substrate selection and tunneling behavior of the southern mole cricket, Scapteriscus borellii Giglio-Tos, to the presence of five strains of B. bassiana relative to a control. There were no differences between the first sensor trigger and total number of triggers, indicating the mole crickets are not capable of detecting B. bassiana at a distance of 8 cm. Changes in mole cricket tunneling and residence time in treated soil occurred for some strains of B. bassiana but not others. One of the strains associated with behavioral changes in the southern mole cricket was used in a second experiment testing behavioral responses of the tawny mole cricket, S. vicinus Scudder. In addition to the formulated product of this strain, the two separate components of that product (conidia and carrier) and bifenthrin, an insecticide commonly used to control mole crickets, were tested. There were no differences in mole cricket behavior between treatments in this study. The differences in behavioral responses between the two species could suggest a more sensitive chemosensory recognition system for southern mole crickets.
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