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The effect of weak illumination during part or all of the scotophase on mating frequency of navel orangeworm, Amyelois transitella (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), was examined in environmental chambers under long photoperiods and constant warm temperature (colony conditions) or shorter photoperiods and a cooler thermoperiod intended to mimic spring conditions in our region. These data were compared to mating frequencies in sentinel females placed in the field during the first three weeks of May. Under colony conditions weak illumination in the final hour of the scotophase resulted in ∼90% mating on the first day after eclosion; significantly greater mating compared to complete darkness throughout the scotophase, weak illumination throughout the scotophase, or weak illumination for both the first and last hour of the scotophase. In an environmental chamber programmed to simulate spring conditions, little mating occurred on the first night after eclosion and three nights were required for more than 50% of the females to mate. There was no difference in mating frequency with between moths exposed to complete darkness throughout the scotophase and those provided with weak illumination in the last half hour of the scotophase or throughout the scotophase. This delay in age of first mating was consistent with field observations with sentinel females at May in the central San Joaquin Valley. The authors conclude that, along with greater longevity and later oviposition, first mating occurs at a later age in spring conditions compared to summer conditions in this species. Planned studies of the effect of delayed mating in first and second flights will need to take these factors into account.
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