Exposure to polyphenol-rich purple corn pericarp extract restricts fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) growth.
Bioactive compounds such as polyphenols in plants have been well studied for their potential insecticidal activities. These are considered as safe alternatives against chemical pesticides because of their lower persistence in environment, lower toxicity to humans and other organisms. However, they are present constitutively in lower amounts in plants and have to undergo complicated extraction methods - hampering their commercial exploitation in pest management. Using an inexpensive extraction method developed to recover polyphenol-rich liquid extract from purple corn pericarp, we recently documented that this extract has anti-feeding effects that cascade from larval to adult stages in a model herbivore tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta). However, M. sexta does not feed on corn or any other major crops other than the species in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). In this study, we explored the same idea but using a generalist and common herbivore on corn, the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda). We found that purple corn pericarp extract inhibited the larval growth and development as well as negatively affected the pupal stages of S. frugiperda. However, unlike on M. sexta, time to complete larval life cycle was unaffected. Our findings confirm the toxicity of this extract on a generalist, economically important herbivore, but also suggest potential species-specific effects that should be explored further.