The Senegalese grasshopper, Oedaleus senegalensis (Krauss) (Orthoptera: Acrididae), is periodically a devastating pest of subsistence crops in the sahelian zone of West Africa. Egg diapause has been suggested as an important component of the mechanism acting to generate outbreaks and therefore diapause duration, egg survival in relation to desiccation and egg-pod morphology were investigated in this study.
Three months after oviposition, 50% of initially diapausing egg pods maintained in the laboratory exhibited ‘partial emergence’ and produced hoppers. No difference in diapause duration was evident between egg pods maintained at a constant 30 ± 1°C and those maintained under alternating temperature conditions of 23 ± 1°C and 35 ± 1°C. Laboratory maintained eggs showed significant variation in diapause duration with diapause lasting between 2 months and 4 years. Diapause duration was shorter in the field with only c. 1.4% of eggs remaining in diapause after a single dry season (6–7 months). Survival of eggs in relation to desiccation was high in the field and low in the laboratory, and field eggs lost only c. 20% of their body weight over the dry season. Survival of diapausing and non-diapausing egg pods in the laboratory was similar, indicating that diapause in this species is primarily a mechanism for preventing emergence at an inappropriate time of year, rather than conferring any additional resistance to desiccation. Egg pods oviposited under diapause-inducing conditions (LD 14:10 h, 25°C) were significantly shorter than those laid under non-diapausing conditions (LD 10:14 h, 40°C). These results are discussed both in relation to possible O.senegalensis ‘bet-hedging’ strategies and to the probable mechanism operating behind major outbreaks of this species.
Physiological Entomology (!996) 21 (3) 173-178 [10.1111/j.1365-3032.1996.tb00852.x]