Waveform characterization of the soybean stem feeder Edessa meditabunda: overcoming the challenge of wiring pentatomids for EPG
Stink bugs (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) are in general robust and restless insects, which makes them difficult to wire for electropenetrograph (EPG) studies. In addition, cuticular lipids may reduce wire effectiveness, and their removal could improve success of wiring. We compared wiring effectiveness for three species of stink bugs, differing in walking behaviour and degree of cuticular waxiness, that is, Piezodorus guildinii (Westwood), Nezara viridula (L.), and Loxa deducta (Walker). Results indicated that removal of cuticular lipids by mechanical abrasion (via sanding) greatly improved attachment success with gold wire. Our hypothesis that heavier and bigger bugs would lose the wire attachment more quickly than lighter and smaller bugs was not confirmed, regardless of the sanding. In contrast, our hypothesis that greater movement of a bug would cause the wire to break more often was supported by extensive testing. Behaviour appears to be more relevant for successful wiring than body weight. We used the sanding and wiring technique to characterize and correlate direct current EPG waveforms for the large and restless stem-feeding stink bug Edessa meditabunda (Fabricius) on soybean plants. This marks the first published example of pentatomid EPG waveforms. Edessa meditabunda recordings on soybean stems generated eight types of waveforms in three phases and two families, named as follows: non-probing = Np and Z; pathway phase = Em1; X wave phase = X; ingestion phase, family I = Em2 and Em3; ingestion phase, family N = Em4 and Em5. These eight were described based on their frequencies, relative amplitudes, and level voltages. Histological studies of stylets within salivary sheaths correlated the Em1, Em2, and Em3 waveforms with specific penetration sites. The waveform with the longest duration when feeding was Em2, representing xylem sap ingestion; in addition, waveform Em3 (always preceded by an X wave) was correlated with phloem sap ingestion.