The western tarnished plant bug, Lygus hesperus Knight (Hemiptera: Miridae), is a key pest of many horticultural and agronomic crops in the western United States. Despite its well documented pest status, many aspects of the basic biology, including overwintering ecology, of L. hesperus are poorly understood. We examined the influence of eight constant temperatures from 10 to 35°C on survival of nondiapausing adult L. hesperus held with or without food, and the consequences of exposure to an extended period at 10°C on subsequent reproduction. Survival analyses indicated that, on average, fed insects tended to live longer than unfed insects, females lived longer than males, and the survival time decreased with increasing temperature. Nonlinear regressions indicated that median survival for insects grouped by gender and feeding status declined exponentially with increasing temperature. Survival functions for combinations of insect class (gender and feeding status) and temperature were adequately described by the respective two-parameter logistic functions. When adults were held for 9 d at 27°C with food after a 33-d period at 10°C either with or without food, no deleterious effects of prior starvation on propensity to mate or fecundity were demonstrated. These findings indicate that when temperatures are low, nondiapausing L. hesperus adults are capable of extended host-free survival with little or no impact on subsequent reproduction. Our findings suggest the current understanding of L. hesperus overwintering dynamics is incomplete. In addition, our results provide quantitative baseline information to facilitate more comprehensive investigation of the ecology of L. hesperus overwintering.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3