Lettuce quality and yield can be reduced by feeding of several lepidopterous pests, particularly cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni (Hübner), and beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Host plant resistance to these insects is an environmentally sound adjunct to conventional chemical control. In this study we compared the survival, development, and feeding behavior of cabbage looper and beet armyworm on two romaine lettuce cultivars, resistant ‘Valmaine’ and susceptible ‘Tall Guzmaine’. Larval mortality of both species was significantly higher on resistant Valmaine than on susceptible Tall Guzmaine. The average weight per larva after feeding for 1 wk on Tall Guzmaine plants was 6 times (beet armyworm) and 2 times (cabbage looper) greater than that of larvae feeding on Valmaine plants. Significant reduction in larval growth on Valmaine compared with that on Tall Guzmaine resulted in a 5.9- (beet armyworm) and 2.6-d (cabbage looper) increase in larval duration and almost a 1-d increase in pupal duration. Average pupal and adult weights and successful pupation of cabbage looper and beet armyworm were reduced on Valmaine compared with Tall Guzmaine. The sex ratio of progeny did not deviate from 1:1 when larvae were reared on either Valmaine or Tall Guzmaine. The fecundity of cabbage looper and beet armyworm adults that developed from larvae reared on Valmaine was about one-third that of adults from Tall Guzmaine, but adult longevity did not significantly differ on the two lettuce cultivars. The two insect species showed different feeding preferences for leaves of different age groups on Valmaine and Tall Guzmaine. Cabbage loopers cut narrow trenches on the leaf before actual feeding to block the flow of latex to the intended site of feeding. In contrast, beet armyworms did not trench. The different feeding behavior of the two species on Valmaine may explain the superior performance of cabbage looper compared with beet armyworm.
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Vol. 99 • No. 6