The cowpea seed beetle, sometimes also known as the cowpea weevil, Callosobruchus maculatus (F.), is a major pest of stored cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata Walpers) in West Africa. Control methods have included development of ‘resistant’ varieties as an environmentally benign alternative to insecticides, but there is concern over their effectiveness because of population variation among the insects and the possibility of adaptation overcoming seed resistance. Populations of C. maculatus from Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, and Niger, were used to examine variation in response to resistant and susceptible cowpea varieties at two geographical scales. Among seven Nigerian populations, there were significant differences in development times, the pattern of adult emergence, adult weights, and female fecundity when reared under identical conditions. Development in the resistant variety was retarded, produced higher mortality and lower adult weights. Significant interactions between variety and population were evident in terms of their effects on adult weight and development time; development times in the resistant variety were longer and emergences occurred over a longer period in some populations than in others. Population responses to resistant seeds were therefore unpredictable, but there was no evidence to suggest adaptation to overcome seed resistance within three generations. On a larger geographical scale, variation in performance was much greater and therefore, even less predictable. Mortality in resistant seeds was also higher among populations collected from outside Nigeria and may be explained by significant adaptation among Nigerian populations to previous release of resistant varieties. The findings are discussed in relation to understanding the extent of intraspecific variation in C. maculatus and its implications for future pest management.
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Vol. 96 • No. 2