Oviposition behaviour in Paysandisia archon (Lepidoptera: Castniidae)
Paysandisia archon (Burmeister, 1880) (Lepidoptera: Castniidae) is a South American insect developing on palms and recently introduced in Europe where it damages most palm species. Understanding the oviposition behaviour would be decisive for risk assessment and pest management but key points on oviposition behaviour are missing. Using wind tunnel and field experiments, we investigated the oviposition timing, the attraction behaviour of mated females to palms and the different steps of oviposition behaviour. Results showed that oviposition behaviour occurred between 3 pm and 6 pm. In the field, gravid females were significantly more attracted by the palm crown than virgin females. The ovipositing females exhibited distinctive steps before ovipositing. Subsequent to alighting on the crown, pre-oviposition behaviour was characterized by two main behavioural steps: walking and probing the surface with antennae and ovipositor. After the choice of oviposition place, the gravid female remains motionless and the extendible ovipositor is deeply introduced into the upper fibrous part of the crown. About 10 eggs can be lays at the same place. Finally, the female starts to walk again and reinitiates the same behavioural sequences. This paper supports the hypothesis that odours from the crown may play a key role in gravid female attraction. The study assessed that P. archon lays on the palm crown, the part of the palm that should be treated for population monitoring.