Preventing insect infestations is a critical component for establishing a pest management plan for stored-product insects. Long-lasting insecticide-treated netting (LLIN) is a potential tool to reduce insect movement by providing a chemical barrier, where insects may be able to physically pass through but ultimately die after exposure to the netting. Sublethal effects, such as reduced movement immediately after exposure and reduced ability to colonize, have been reported. Here we examine the sublethal effects of exposure to LLIN on two beetle species, Trogoderma variabile Ballion, warehouse beetle, and Tribolium castaneum Herbst, red flour beetle. We found that both female and male T. castaneum exposed to LLIN produced significantly less adult progeny than those exposed to untreated netting. Adult progeny output did not differ for T. variabile, but survivorship increased in T. variabile females exposed to LLIN. Importantly, the overall net reproductive rate was significantly decreased for both T. variabile and T. castaneum. The number of copulation attempts did not differ between males or females exposed to LLIN compared to untreated netting, but males exposed to LLIN showed increased durations of attempted and successful copulation events. This research demonstrates that the implications of LLIN exposure extend past direct mortality, with sublethal effects on reproductive output potentially increasing the effectiveness of this tool for preventing insect infestations.
Assays for adult Tribolium castaneum and larval Trogoderma variabile exposed to long-lasting insecticide-treated netting. Increase and decrease arrows represent the response following exposure to LLIN compared to untreated netting.