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The effects of 16 sugars (arabinose, cellobiose, fructose, galactose, gentiobiose, glucose, inositol, lactose, maltose, mannitol (a sugar alcohol), mannose, melibiose, ribose, sorbitol, trehalose, and xylose) on sweet potato whitefly Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) survival were determined using in vitro bioassays. Of these sugars, arabinose, mannose, ribose, and xylose were strongly inhibitory to both nymphal and adult survival. When 10% mannose was added to the nymphal diet, 10.5%, 1.0%, and 0% developed to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th instars, respectively. When 10% arabinose was added, 10.8% and 0% of the nymphs molted to the 2nd and 3rd instars, respectively. Addition of 10% xylose or ribose completely terminated B. tabaci development, preventing the molt to the 2nd instar. With decreasing sugar concentrations the inhibitory effect was significantly reduced. In tests using adults, arabinose, galactose, inositol, lactose, maltose, mannitol, mannose, melibiose, ribose, sorbitol, trehalose, and xylose significantly reduced mean day survival. Mortality rates were highest when arabinose, mannitol, mannose, ribose, or xylose was added to the diet. Mean day survival was less than 2 days when adults were fed on diet containing 10% of any one of these five sugars. When lower concentrations of sugars were used there was a decrease in mortality. Mode of action studies revealed that toxicity was not due to the inhibition of alpha glucosidase (converts sucrose to glucose and fructose) and/or trehalulose synthase (converts sucrose to trehalulose) activity. The result of agarose gel electrophoresis of RT-PCR products of bacterial endosymbionts amplified from RNA isolated from whiteflies fed with 10% arabinose, mannose, or xylose indicated that the concentration of endosymbionts in mycetomes was not affected by the toxic sugars. Experiments in which B. tabaci were fed on diets that contained radio-labeled sucrose, methionine or inulin and one or none (control) of the highly toxic sugars showed that radioactivity (expressed in DPM) in the body, in excreted honeydew and/or carbon dioxide, was significantly reduced as compared to controls. Thus, it appears that the ability of insecticidal sugars to act as antifeedants is responsible for their toxicity to B. tabaci.