Reproductive boll weevil populations are typically identified by the presence of a frass seal and protuberance at the oviposition site in cotton squares. However, despite the occurrence of other oviposition puncture seal types and their use in previous fecundity studies, the relationship of these respective puncture seal types and oviposition has not been clearly examined. In this study, newly eclosed females (≤24 h old, but mated at 4 d of age) were fed fresh squares daily for 8 d to determine oviposition frequency in relation to individual puncture seal types. Puncture seal types were classified as unsealed; puncture with frass seal; puncture with wax seal; and puncture with wax seal and partially covered with frass. Overall, no significant associations were detected between the types of sealed punctures, and the frequency of oviposition in sealed punctures ranged from 64.6 (wax-seal with frass) to 72.9% (frass-sealed) during 2001 and 53.4 (wax-sealed) to 55.2% (wax-seal with frass) during 2002. Examination of individual trials revealed considerable variability in oviposition associated with all sealed puncture types. Oviposition also occurred in unsealed punctures by mated females in all trials. Because of the high degree of oviposition observed in punctures not normally associated as oviposition sites (i.e., wax-seal with frass, wax-seal), this study clearly shows the need to consider other puncture types as potential indicators of reproductive weevil populations. These results will be critical in boll weevil management programs where accurate detection of reproductive weevil populations is crucial for continued pest suppression.
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