Insecticides can have lethal or sublethal effects upon targeted pest species, and sublethal effects may even favor pest outbreaks if insecticide-induced hormesis occurs. Hormesis is a biphasic dose—response of a given chemical compound that is stimulatory at low doses and toxic at high doses. The former response may result from the disruption of animal homeostasis leading to trade-off shifts between basic ecophysiological processes. A growing interest in the use of biorational insecticides, such as azadirachtin to control stored-product pests, raises concerns about potential sublethal effects. In this study, we explored the hypothesis that azadirachtin can negatively impact the reproductive capacity of the Mexican bean weevil, Zabrotes subfasciatus (Boheman) (Chrysomelidae: Bruchinae), a key pest of stored beans. In addition,weinvestigated whether adults of this species could compensate for any sublethal effect that might have affected any of their reproductive parameters by adjusting the allocation of its reproductive efforts. The results showed that females of Z. subfasciatus increased fecundity daily to compensate for azadirachtin-induced decreased longevity. In addition, a stage-structured matrix study revealed that populations of Z. subfasciatus engendered from females exposed to azadirachtin exhibited a higher rate of population increase (r) and a higher net reproductive rate (Ro). Finally, a projection matrix analysis showed notably higher densities along the generations for azadirachtin-exposed Z. subfasciatus populations. Thus, our study provides empirical evidence for the capacity of Z. subfasciatus to adapt to sublethal effects caused by biorational insecticides; consequently, this study highlights the importance of understanding this phenomenon when devising pest management strategies.
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Vol. 107 • No. 2