Essential oils have been suggested as suitable alternatives for controlling insect pests. However, the potential adaptive responses elicited in insects for mitigating the actions of these compounds have not received adequate attention. Furthermore, as is widely reported with traditional insecticides, sublethal exposure to essential oils might induce stimulatory responses or contribute to the development of resistance strategies that can compromise the management of insect pests. The current study evaluated the locomotory and respiratory responses as well as the number of larvae per grain produced by the maize weevil, Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky, after being sublethally exposed to the essential oils of clove, Syzygium aromaticum L., and cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum L. The essential oils showed similar insecticidal toxicity (exposure route: contact with dried residues; Clove LC95 = 3.96 [2.78-6.75] µl/cm2; Cinnamon LC95 = 3.47 [2.75-4.73] ml/cm2). A stimulatory effect on the median survival time (TL50) was observed when insects were exposed to low concentrations of each oil. Moreover, a higher number of larvae per grain was produced under sublethal exposure to clove essential oil. S. zeamais avoided the treated areas (in free-choice experiments) and altered their mobility when sublethally exposed to both essential oils. The respiratory rates of S. zeamais (i.e., CO2 production) were significantly reduced under low concentrations of the essential oils.We recommend the consideration of the potential sublethal effects elicited by botanical pesticides during the development of integrated pest management programs aiming to control S. zeamais.
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