Investigating the Movement Components of Host Preference in a Highly Mobile Insect Herbivore, Nephotettix cincticeps (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae)

Hannah L. Gray, David A. Andow, Keizi Kiritani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Effective insect management strategies require a firm understanding of the factors determining host preference, particularly in highly mobile insect herbivores. Host preference studies commonly employ average or first position as a proxy for preference. Yet few studies have explored host preference in relation to transitory attraction and leaving rates, yet these are both components of host plant selection. We investigated the transitory dynamics of preference by the green rice leafhopper, Nephotettix cincticeps (Uhler) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) by conducting experiments on groups of females, males, or mixed-sex leafhoppers, and recording their position over time between low-N and normal-N rice plants. Utilizing a log-linear model and variants of a biostatistical model we used these positional data to extract attraction, leaving and tenure rates to better understand the process of host-plant selection. We found a general preference for normal-N over low-N plants at equilibrium. However, between sexes there was variation in the relative significance of attraction or leaving rates on that preference. Female leafhoppers were more attracted to host plants with higher nitrogen content. Male leafhoppers were less discriminate in their initial attraction to hosts but left low-N hosts at a faster rate. Whereas estimated tenure times on both normal- and low-N plants exceeded transmission times for the leafhopper-transmitted rice dwarf virus, longer tenure on normal-N plants likely increases the likelihood of virus acquisition from these plants. Our findings support previous recommendations that growers can mitigate the risks of leafhopper damage and pathogen transmission by optimizing their application of nitrogenous fertilizers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental entomology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 17 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank K. Hidaka, H. Kawamoto, S. Miyai, S. Akita, T. Kidokoro, K. Kishino, and A. Zeilinger for their assistance in the execution and analysis of this work. This research was supported by the NSF US-Japan Cooperative Science Program Grant INT-83202755 in cooperation with Drs. K. Kiritani and E. Kuno.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • agricultural entomology
  • cicadellidae
  • ecology and population dynamics
  • feeding behavior
  • insect-plant interaction

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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