Flight activity promotes reproductive processes in the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda.
The fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), has invaded many countries in Africa and Asia since 2016, posing a major threat to world food security. Long-distance migration and strong reproductive ability form the biological basis of its rapid population expansion, but the relationship between the flight and reproduction of FAW has not been studied in depth. Here, an empirical assessment of this relationship in an invasive FAW population in China found that 1-3-day-old adults which had undergone 10-h tethered flights had a significantly shorter pre-oviposition period and greater oviposition synchronization, but did not show any differences in fecundity, oviposition period, mating percentage or other reproductive variables. Further studies on moths after 1.25-15-h tethered flights indicated that the reproductive process of adults could be fully triggered by flight activity longer than 2.5 h. Dissection of the reproductive organs also showed that tethered flight promoted ovarian and testicular development of FAW. These results show that appropriate moth flight activity significantly speeds up the reproductive process of FAW, which increases our knowledge on its migratory biology in relation to regional outbreaks.