Photoperiodic response of diapause induction in the pine caterpillar, Dendrolimus punctatus.
The pine caterpillar, Dendrolimus punctatus (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae), is a multivoltine pest of pine trees in China, overwintering as larvae. Winter diapause was induced by short day length. The critical night length was about 10 h 40 min at 25, 28, and 31°C in the field, showing a temperature-compensated diapause induction. Transfer experiments from a short night (L16:D8) to a long night (L12:D12) or vice versa at different times after hatching showed that sensitivity to day length was restricted to the first 14 days; the required day number for a 50% response at 25°C was about 3.5 days for short nights but 7.5 days for long nights, indicating that short nights are photoperiodically more effective. When four successive short nights (L16:D8) were used to interrupt the long-night regime (L12:D12) at different development stages and vice versa, the results showed that the highest sensitivity to photoperiod occurred on the 4th-8th day, corresponding to the second larval instar. Experiments of alternating short-night (L16:D8) and long-night (L12:D12) cycles during the larval period showed that the information of short nights as well as long nights could be accumulated. By rearing the larvae under conditions other than 24-h light-dark cycles, we clearly showed that the dark period (scotophase) played a major role in the determination of diapause. The Nanda-Hamner and Bünsow experiments failed to reveal rhythmic fluctuations with a period of about 24 h in the occurrence of diapause. Therefore, the photoperiodic clock in D. punctatus is an hourglass timer or a damped circadian oscillator.