Fungus gnats, Bradysia spp., are major insect pests in greenhouses. Adult female fungus gnats prefer to lay eggs in growing medium that is microbially active or that contains high amounts of peat moss or hardwood bark. However, egg-laying preference has not been demonstrated quantitatively. This study was designed to determine whether fungus gnat Bradysia sp. nr. coprophila females prefer any of the three soilless growing media provided. The three soilless growing media tested were Metro-Mix 560 with Scott’s Coir, Sunshine LC1 Mix, and Universal SB 300 Mix. Initially, the egg-laying potential of the fungus gnat species used in this study was assessed by dissecting mated females after 24, 48, and 72 h. For the egg-laying preference experiment, adults that emerged from pupae were aspirated into a plastic vial, sexed, and then allowed to mate for 24 h. Individual mated females were released into an experimental chamber (15 by 15 by 5-cm plastic container) consisting of four 6-cm petri dishes, three of which contained soilless growing media and one with filter paper (control). In total, there were 50 experimental chambers, with each chamber representing a replication. Females remained in the experimental chambers for 48 h after which the growing media were processed using a flotation/extraction method. The number of eggs laid by female fungus gnats ranged from 21 to 217 with most eggs recovered after 48 h (141.0 ± 9.3). There were no significant differences among the three soilless growing media in terms of number of eggs laid, although all three growing media were significantly different from the filter paper with higher numbers of eggs laid in the soilless growing media than the filter paper. Despite no significant difference among the growing media in the number of eggs laid, fungus gnat females tended to lay eggs more often, based on the number of petri dishes in which at least one egg was laid, in Metro-Mix 560 (86%) than Sunshine LC1 (66%), Universal SB 300 (52%), or filter paper (18%). Based on the results of this study, female fungus gnats may not prefer a specific growing medium for oviposition. However, fungus gnat females may rely on other factors not tested in this study such as moisture content and volatiles emitted from growing media in their decision where to lay eggs.
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Vol. 98 • No. 6