Ambient humidity affects development, survival, and reproduction of the invasive fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), in China.
Ambient humidity can directly affect the water balance in insects. The migratory fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda Smith, has spread to more than 60 countries and regions in Africa, Asia, and Oceania that have a great difference in average ambient humidity. Understanding the effects of ambient humidity changes on its development, survival, and reproduction can help to predict its population dynamics in different habitats. Therefore, we evaluated the effects of atmospheric relative humidity (RH) on the development, survival, and reproduction and soil moisture on the pupation and emergence of fall armyworm. As a result, survival and pupal mass increased significantly with increasing RH. Among the five RHs tested, 80% RH was the most suitable for fall armyworm with the highest intrinsic rate of increase (r), finite rate of increase (λ), and net reproduction rate (R0). The population growth at the different RHs in decreasing order was 80 > 100 > 60 > 40 > 20%. A relative moisture (RM) of soil from 6.80 to 47.59% was suitable for fall armyworm pupation, survival, and eclosion, but fall armyworm could not pupate normally in soil with 88.39 and 95.19% RM. The survival and emergence rate of fall armyworm pupae were reduced by irrigation that increased the RM after the mature larvae entered the soil. These findings may be helpful for refining laboratory rearing protocols, population forecasting, and management of fall armyworm.