Uptake and translocation of the elemental markers rubidium (Rb) and cesium (Cs) within adult soybean looper, Pseudoplusia includens (Walker), were determined using atomic absorption spectrophotometry in the laboratory in various feeding and mating treatments. Neonates were tested to determine marker transfer from male and female adults fed rubidium chloride (RbCl)-treated artificial nectar, cesium chloride (CsCl)-treated artificial nectar, or both. All females contained detectable levels of Rb, Cs, or both, which were obtained either through direct feeding or via spermatophores. Rubidium was present in females at significantly greater levels than Cs. No significant differences in Rb levels were observed between feeding or spermatophore acquisitions. Most neonates had significantly higher levels of Rb than Cs. In a field cage study to evaluate adult feeding and oviposition behavior on blooming cotton and blooming soybean treated with RbCl and CsCl, respectively, more eggs contained Rb than Cs, indicating greater feeding on cotton nectar than soybean nectar, regardless of the host plant upon which eggs were laid. Females laid more eggs on blooming soybean than on blooming cotton. Higher levels of Rb in cotton than Cs in soybean were recorded and may be attributed to initial elemental marker quantities available to the insects. This study provides the support for the generalized observations that soybean looper infestations in soybean can be related to feeding activities by adults in cotton.
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Vol. 95 • No. 2