A low-cost simplified diet has been successfully developed for rearing Spodoptera exigua larvae under laboratory conditions. The cost of ingredients was lower than that of the standard diet based on a modified tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta (L.), diet. The simplified diet fulfilled larval nutritional requirements without apparent adverse effects on the reproductive capacity of the insect. Survival, pupal sex ratio, and fecundity registered in insects that were reared on the simplified diet did not differ from those observed on the standard diet. The mean larval development period of insects that consumed the simplified diet was also similar to that of insects that consumed the standard diet, whereas weight of pupae and adult longevity were significantly higher in insects reared on simplified diet. Larvae consumed ≈11% more of the standard diet compared with the simplified diet and a corresponding increase was observed in the number of larvae that could be reared through to pupation on each liter of simplified diet. The production of S.. exigua multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (SeMNPV) occlusion bodies (OBs) in insects grown on each type of diet was also evaluated. Weights of larvae at inoculation and at death, OB yields and biological activity of OBs did not differ significantly for each type of diet. The simplified low-cost diet appears suitable for large-scale in vivo production of SeMNPV OBs.
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Vol. 103 • No. 1