Searching and ovipositional behaviors by female Eretmocems sp. nr. californicus Howard on Bemisia argentifolii Bellows and Perring infesting velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti Medic. (Malavaceae), and telegraph weed, Heterotheca grandiflora Nutt. (Asteraceae), were quantified. Adult female behaviors were described and quantified for E. sp. nr. californicus to establish a behavioral time budget analysis. Females departed from leaves of A. theophrasti in 83.3% of the trials, and of those that remained and searched for hosts, walking speeds averaged 0.29 mm/s. Females departed from the leaves of H. grandiflora in 44.4% of the trials, and those remaining readily searched for whitefly hosts with walking speeds averaging 0.26 mm/s. The duration of host assessment by antennation was related to subsequent behaviors; rejecting a host was a shorter process than accepting it for further evaluation irrespective of plant species or nymphal stage. Evidence for a behavioral preference for oviposition under early nymphal instars was documented for female E. sp. nr. californicus on both plant species. Oviposition efficiency in 1-h laboratory trials for nymphs on A. theophrasti was 30% and efficiency on H. grandiflora was 23%. Females spent 61.9 and 53.3% of their total time in searching, host assessment, probing, and oviposition while on A. theophrasti and H. grandiflora, respectively. The remainder of the time was spent grooming, resting, and host feeding, except host feeding on A. theophrasti was not observed. Implications of this study for silverleaf whitefly management through conservation and augmentation of native flora and fauna are discussed.


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