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A critical feeding period is the time after which 50% of a given species of insect can be removed from its food source and complete development by undergoing adult eclosion. The critical feeding period was determined for the greenhouse white fly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum, and the sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Biotype B) (Homptera/Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae). Fourth (last) instar and pharate adult whiteflies were removed from green bean leaves, staged, placed on filter paper in small Petri dishes containing drops of water, and observed daily for eclosion. For T. vaporariorum reared at 25°C and L:D 16:8, 55 and 80% adult eclosion were observed when whiteflies were removed at stages 4 (0.23–0.26 mm in body depth) and 5 (≥ 0.27 mm in body depth), respectively, so that at least 50% eclosion was only achieved in this species of whitefly when adult eye development had already been initiated (in Stage 4), and 80% eclosion when adult wing development had been initiated (Stage 5). In contrast, 63% of B. tabaci emerged as adults if removed from the leaf at Stage 3 (0.18–0.22 mm in body depth), and 80% emerged if removed at Stage 4/5, stages in which adult formation had not yet been initiated. The mean number of eggs laid by experimental (those removed at Stages 4–5, 6–7 or 8–9) and control (those that remained on the leaf prior to eclosion) whiteflies, and the mean percent hatch of these eggs were not significantly different in experimental and control groups. Stages 7, 8 and 9 are characterized by a light red adult eye, medium red bipartite adult eye and dark red or red-black bipartite adult eye, respectively. Mean adult longevity also was not significantly different between experimental and control groups. However, for all groups of T. vaporariorum, adult female longevity was significantly (at least 2 times) greater than male longevity. Our results identify the critical feeding periods for last instar/pharate adults of two important pest species of whitefly. Since in both species of whitefly the critical feeding period is achieved when weight gain reaches a plateau, it appears that the critical feeding period is more closely correlated with the attainment of a critical weight than with either the time that ecdsyteroid titers first peak or the time when adult development is initiated.
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