Phytochemicals may modify the food quality, reduce a plant's palatability to insects, or defend against pests. This work aimed to study 1) relationships between the nitrogen and potassium levels given to plants in nutritive solutions and the foliar phytochemical concentrations, 2) the effect of nutrients and secondary compounds of Coffea arabica on the behavior of Coccus viridis, and 3) tolerance of C. arabica to losses. Deficient, normal, and excessive nitrogen and potassium fertilization treatments were used. Each treatment had two plants (one infested and one noninfested plant). The contents of phytochemicals in the infested plants' leaves and their dry matter of roots, stems, and leaves as well as the total contents in noninfested plants, were determined. The adults and nymphs of C. viridis were counted for 60 d in all treatments. It was verified that elevated nitrogen and potassium levels in the nutritional solutions led to increased of nymphs and adults of C. viridis to the coffee plants over time. Potassium and nitrogen had both direct and indirect effects on C. viridis. The direct effect was because of the increase of the nitrogen content in the leaves. The indirect effect instead was because of reductions in the caffeine and chlorogenic acid contents in the leaves. This is the first study to show relationship nutrient levels of coffee phytochemicals in response to herbivory by scale insects. Caffeine and chlorogenic acid applied on coffee leaves stimulated the locomotory activity of the green scale, thus reducing their feeding compared with untreated leaves. The elevation of caffeine and chlorogenic acid levels in coffee leaves affect this generalist insect by stimulating the locomotion of crawlers.
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Vol. 41 • No. 2