Lygus hesperus Knight (Hemiptera: Miridae) is a key pest of cotton (Gossypium spp.) in the western United States that injures floral buds (squares) and developing fruit (bolls). However, no clear relationship between Lygus population level and plant injury has been established. Agedependent feeding activity by L. hesperus is a possible source of variation that has not been examined for its influence in studies of the impact of Lygus on cotton. Recent video-based laboratory studies indicated that feeding behaviors and trivial movement varied among L. hesperus adults of different gender and reproductive states (prereproductive; reproductive and unmated; and reproductive and mated). We compared within-plant distributions and accumulations of feeding injury to intact cotton plants corresponding to adult L. hesperus of different gender and reproductive states. Adult females, regardless of reproductive state, were observed on squares and axillary buds more often than were males. Additionally, prereproductive adults were observed on squares and axillary buds more often than were mated or unmated reproductive adults, regardless of gender. Plants that were exposed to prereproductive adults exhibited more abscised squares and more squares with injured anthers compared with plants exposed to reproductive adults. However, feeding injury did not differ by insect mating status or gender. These results are consistent with results of our previous video-based assays, and indicate adult reproductive state represents a source of variation that should be controlled in studies to evaluate Lygus-induced injury to cotton and other crop plants.
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Vol. 41 • No. 2