Susceptibility of the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith, 1797) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), to four species of entomopathogenic nematodes (Steinernematidae and Heterorhabditidae) from Mizoram, North-Eastern India.
Background: Outbreak of the fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith, 1797) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) occurred in Mizoram, North-Eastern India. The infestation spread in the entire state covering a total area of around 2840 hectares of maize cultivated land. Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) represent potential candidates for the biological control of S. frugiperda. In the study, the susceptibility of the pest against 4 locally isolated EPN species Heterorhabditis indica, H. baujardi, Steinernema sangi and S. surkhetense was evaluated. Results: The results indicated that all the isolated EPN species showed a high rate of larvicidal and pupicidal activities against the pest. Mortality between 43.75-100.00 and 25.00-100.00% of 3rd and 5th larval instars, respectively (at concentrations 10-800 IJs/larva), and 37.50-68.75% mortality of pupae (at concentrations 200-1600 IJs/pupa) were found after exposure to the EPN species. The mortality rate of the pest showed significant variations with life stages of the host insect, nematode concentrations and incubation time. Based on the median lethal concentration (LC50), H. indica was the most pathogenic species, followed by S. sangi, H. baujardi and S. surkhetense. The LC50 values of H. indica at 72 h post-incubation were 20.26 and 62.07 IJs/larva for the 3rd and 5th larval instars, respectively, and 913.34 IJs/pupa. The penetration assay showed that H. indica had the highest penetration rate into the hosts, 27.24, 21.30 and 20.00% in the 3rd, 5th larval instars and pupae, respectively. Furthermore, all the EPN isolates were capable of successful multiplication inside the cadaver of S. frugiperda that showed significant differences with the EPN isolates and life stages of the pest. Among the isolates, H. indica showed the highest multiplication rates, 17,692.25 ± 2103.59, 8345.63 ± 785.34 and 79,146.38 ± 5943.73 IJs per 3rd instar larva, 5th instar larva and pupa, respectively. Conclusions: The study revealed that the 4 species of EPNs showed a high potency against S. frugiperda, thereby having the potential to be developed as a biological control agent against the pest. Moreover, the isolated EPN species could potentially serve as alternatives for chemical insecticides and could further be incorporated into the Integrated Pest Management (IPM).