The rice water weevil, Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus Kuschel, is the most destructive insect pest of rice in the United States. As part of an effort to develop strategies to manage this pest, the ovipositional and feeding habits of L. oryzophilus on rice plants subjected to different flooding treatments were characterized in greenhouse studies. Presence and depth of flood had a direct influence on the ovipositional behavior of weevils in no-choice studies. More eggs were found in flooded plants than in unflooded plants. Moreover, plants flooded to a depth of 5.1 cm received more eggs than plants flooded to depths of 1.3 or 10.2 cm. Presence and depth of flood influenced both the proportion of females that oviposited in plants and the number of eggs laid by those females that did oviposit. In choice studies, female weevils showed a marked ovipositional preference for plants flooded to a depth of 10.2 cm over unflooded plants and plants flooded to a depth of 1.3 cm. In separate choice experiments, adult rice water weevils fed more on flooded plants than on unflooded plants. In a third set of experiments, flooded plants were taller and had higher concentrations of 10 of 13 plant nutrients than unflooded plants. Thus, flooding may influence rice water weevil behavior both directly, by acting as a stimulus for feeding or oviposition, and indirectly, by inducing changes in the suitability of rice plants for feeding or oviposition. These data suggest that it may be possible to manipulate populations of weevils in rice by changing water management practices.
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Vol. 95 • No. 4