New understanding of the direct effects of spectral balance on behaviour in Myzus persicae

Fennell, Joseph T.; Wilby, Andrew; Sobeih, Wagdy and Paul, Nigel D. (2020). New understanding of the direct effects of spectral balance on behaviour in Myzus persicae. Journal of Insect Physiology, 126, article no. 104096.



The study of insect responses to colour has mainly focused on flying species and morphs, however colour cues are likely to be important for insect positioning within the canopy. We examine the role of illumination colour in canopy positioning of apterous Myzus persicae (Sulzer) using both a field experiment, utilising various UV-manipulating optical filters, and a laboratory experiment using video tracking of individuals illuminated by a variable intensity UVA-Blue-Green LED-array. In the field experiment, approximately twice as many aphids were located on exposed leaf surfaces under UV-deficient environments compared to UV-rich environments. The lab experiment showed all three M. persicae photoreceptors were involved in a visually-mediated feeding/avoidance behaviour. Highly UV-rich, green-deficient environments were up to 3 times as likely to trigger an avoidance behaviour compared to UV-absent, green-rich environments such as those found below the leaf surface. We show that apterous M. persicae use this, in addition to other cues, in order to locate feeding positions that minimise exposure to direct sunlight. This has relevance to both the fundamental understanding of photoprotective behaviour in Hemiptera as well as to applied research of crop production environments that disrupt pest behaviour.

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