In spite of the many studies carried out on the biology and economic importance of Lygus spp. (Hemiptera: Miridae), little has been done on the behavior of these plant bugs, especially on oviposition behavior, which is unknown for most Miridae. Here we report on oviposition behavior and preference using Lygus rugulipennis (Popp.) as a model. Experiments were conducted on fresh green beans in a closed arena and data were recorded using a computer program for behavioral observations. Behavioral steps are described using ethogrammes. Lygus rugulipennis females examine the plant substrate using sensilla present on the labial tip and then probe into the tissue using the stylets. If the substrate is suitable, the female inserts its ovipositor exactly in the probed spot and lays an egg. In order to study oviposition preference, bioassays were also conducted to compare behavior towards healthy or artificially wounded fresh green beans. Through labial examination, females discriminated between healthy and wounded tissues and significantly preferred to oviposit into the latter. These results were confirmed with tests carried out using healthy vs. artificially wounded sunflower plants. The use of labium and stylets for substrate examination and probing, respectively, is discussed in relation to structural features and behavioral strategies. In addition, the preference for damaged tissues is discussed both in terms of oviposition strategies and of possible applications in monitoring the presence of Lygus bugs and their egg parasitoids and controlling these pests using artificially damaged trap plants.
Species 1: Heteroptera Miridae Lygus rugulipennis (European tarnished plant bug)
Keywords: host plant selection, embedded eggs
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