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Insects. 2020 Jan 21;11(2). pii: E73. doi: 10.3390/insects11020073.

Influence of Temperature on the Interaction for Resource Utilization Between Fall Armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), and a Community of Lepidopteran Maize Stemborers Larvae.

Author information

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Nairobi P.O. Box 30772-00100, Kenya.
Department of Plant Science and Crop protection, University of Nairobi, Kangemi, Nairobi P.O. Box 29053-00625, Kenya.
Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, IRD, UMR Évolution, Génomes, Comportement et Écologie, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
Department of Biochemistry, University of Nairobi, Nairobi P.O. Box 30197-00100, Kenya.


Intra- and interspecific interactions within communities of species that utilize the same resources are characterized by competition or facilitation. The noctuid stemborers, Busseola fusca and Sesamia calamistis, and the crambid stemborer, Chilo partellus were the most important pests of maize in sub-Saharan Africa before the recent "invasion" of fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda, which currently seriously limits maize yields in Africa. This new pest is interacting with the stemborer community at the larval stage in the use of maize resources. From a work done by Ntiri et al. [13] on the influence of temperature on the larval intra- and interspecific resources utilization within the community of Lepidoptera stemborers involving B. fusca, S. calamistis, and C. partellus, there is a need to update this study by adding the new pest, S. frugiperda, in order to understand the effect of temperature on the larval interactions of all these four species under the context of climate change. The influence of temperature on intra- and interspecific larval interactions was studied in the same protocol of Ntiri et al. [13] using artificial stems kept at different constant temperatures (15 °C, 20 °C, 25 °C, and 30 °C) in an incubator and assessing survival and relative growth rates of each species in single and multi-species experiments. After the inclusion of FAW into the experiments, with regard to relative growth rates, both intra- and interspecific competition was observed among all four species. With regard to survival rates, cannibalism can also explain the intra- and interspecific interactions observed among all four species. Interspecific competition was stronger between the stemborers than between the FAW and the stemborers. Similar to lepidopteran stemborers, temperature affected both survival and relative growth rates of the FAW as well. Regardless of the temperature, C. partellus was superior in interspecific interactions shown by higher relative growth and survival rates. The results suggest that the FAW will co-exist with stemborer species along entire temperature gradient, though competition and/or cannibalism with them is weak. In addition, temperature increases caused by climate change is likely to confer an advantage to C. partellus over the fall armyworm and the other noctuids.


fall armyworm; interactions; intra- and interspecific; maize stemborers; temperature

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results.

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