The eggs and larvae of the Mediterranean flour moth, Ephestia kuehniella Zeller are routinely utilized as a substitute host for the rearing of parasitoids and predators required for biological control. Nutritional performance, digestive enzymatic activities and growth indices of the fifth instar larvae of E. kuehniella were evaluated on flour of seven barley (Fajr 30, Reihan 03, 5 Shoor, Dasht, Sahra, Khorram and EH-83-7) and two wheat (Bam and Sepahan) cultivars at 25±1°C, 65±5% R.H., and a photoperiod of 16:8 (L: D) h. The results show that the highest larval growth index was observed when larvae were fed barley cultivar Reihan03. The highest and lowest values of larval weight gain were on barley cultivars EH-83-7 and Sahra, respectively. The highest value of efficiency of conversion of ingested food was in larvae reared on barley cultivar EH-83-7, whereas the lowest value was on barley cultivar Sahra. Moreover, the highest relative growth rate was detected on barley cultivar EH-83-7. The highest and lowest levels of amylolytic activity were on wheat cultivar Bam and barley cultivar Khorram, respectively. The highest proteolytic activity was observed in larvae reared on barley cultivar Fajr 30, whereas the lowest activity was on barley cultivars Dasht, Khorram and wheat cultivar Bam. Finally, barley cultivars EH-83-7 and Reihan 03 can be suggested as the most suitable cultivars for laboratory rearing of E. kuehniella.
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