Insecticides are the dominant pest management method in fruit and vegetable crops worldwide owing to their quick effect, low cost, and relatively easy application, but they bear negative effects on human health and the environment. Insecticide mode of action (MoA), target species, and sex are variables that could affect insecticide-induced mortality. We recorded the mortality caused by three neurotoxic insecticides with different modes of action (chlorpyrifos [organophosphate, acetylcholinesterase inhibitor], λ-cyhalothrin [pyrethroid, sodium channel modulator], and thiacloprid [neonicotinoid, nicotinic acetylcholinesterase receptor agonist]) applied topically to adult males and females of three economically important tortricid species [Cydia pomonella (L.), Grapholita molesta (Busck), and Lobesia botrana (Denis & Schiffermüller)] that strongly depend on insecticide use for their control. Concentration and dose–mortality curves were recorded at 24 and 48 h postapplication. Large mortality differences between insecticides (maximum 7,800-fold for LD50) were followed by much lower, yet important, differences between species (maximum 115-fold), and sexes (maximum 41.5-fold). Significant interactions between the three factors indicate that they are not independent from each other. Interestingly, with the organophosphate chlorpyrifos, males of the three species were less susceptible than females, which was unexpected, as females are larger than males. Higher female sensitivity to organophosphates has been reported previously but only in G. molesta, not in other moth species. Our results highlight the importance of taking into account sex in dose–mortality studies with adult moths.
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Vol. 110 • No. 4