Flight capability and the low temperature threshold of a Chinese field population of the fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda.
The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith), is capable of long-distance migration; thus, evaluation of its flight capability is relevant to the design of monitoring and control strategies for this pest. Previous studies have quantified the flight ability of lab-reared populations under controlled conditions, but less is known about the flight capability of natural populations. In addition, the low temperature threshold for flight in natural populations also needs to be determined. In this study, the flight capability of S. frugiperda adults emerging from field-collected larvae in South China was measured by a flight mill system. The results show that the flight capability of S. frugiperda moths varied greatly between individuals, and that some adults are capable of flying great distances. The longest self-powered flight distance was 116.7 km with a cumulative flight duration of 36.51 h during a 48-h period. Typically, the flight activity of tethered individuals was relatively stable during the first 12 h, indicating that migrating moths can fly through an entire night. Based on the accumulated flight duration in the first 12 h, moths can be clearly divided into two groups (<5 h and ≥5 h flight duration), and 58% of individuals belonged to the latter group with strong migratory tendency. Further, flight activity under low temperature conditions was tested, and the results of a logit generalized linear model indicate that the low temperature flight threshold of S. frugiperda is 13.1°C under declining temperatures. Our results provide a scientific basis for further elucidating the flight biology and migration mechanism of S. frugiperda.