Ailanthus altissima aqueous extract deters Spodoptera frugiperda oviposition.
Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle (Simaroubaceae), the tree of heaven, is a highly invasive tree species containing phytochemicals with a range of biological activities. Exposure to novel chemistry from invasive plant species may result in changes to established Lepidopteran behaviors, including feeding or oviposition. However, the impact of A. altissima chemistry on insect behavior has not been extensively explored. Therefore, A. altissima extract was tested for oviposition deterrence effects against Spodoptera frugiperda (Smith) (Noctuidae). Oviposition substrates were treated with water-soluble extractions of Zea mays (L), A. altissima, or a combination of both. Moths were then placed in chambers containing different substrate treatments and allowed to oviposit. Given choice, S. frugiperda demonstrated a higher percentage of egg deposition on Z. mays treated substrate compared to water treated substrate or A. altissima treated substrate. Significantly, when Z. mays treated substrate was subsequently treated with A. altissima extract, S. frugiperda was deterred from laying eggs on its preferred substrate (Z. mays) in a concentration-dependent manner. This observed change in behavior suggests that the deterrent properties of A. altissima phytochemicals may have economically important crop protection applications in controlling pest species like S. frugiperda.