Colour choice behaviour in the pollen beetle Meligethes aeneus (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae).

11 November 2012


The pollen beetle Meligethes aeneus Fabricius (Coleoptera, Nitidulidae), a pest of oilseed rape (Brassica napus), is known to respond to coloured stimuli; however, current understanding of the underlying mechanisms of colour choice in this species is limited. In the present study, physiological and behavioural experiments are conducted to determine the response of the pollen beetle to colours in the field. Spectral sensitivity is measured in 10 animals using the electroretinogram technique. Light flashes (100 ms) at varied wavelengths (340–650 nm, 10-nm steps) and at different light intensities are applied to the eye after dark adaptation.

In behavioural experiments in the field, 100 water traps of varying colours (from yellow to green to blue with varying amounts of white and black added, and with known spectral reflectance) are set out on a bare soil field in May 2008. The mean spectral sensitivity curve of M. aeneus peaks at 520 nm; however, a model template fitted to the long wavelength tail of the observed curve reveals a peak at approximately 540 nm (green). A secondary sensitivity peak is observed in the ultraviolet (UV) range (370 nm).

A total of 2482 pollen beetles are captured in the coloured traps. The results show that the pollen beetles' preference for yellow over other colours can be modelled as a colour opponent mechanism (green versus blue); however, further experiments are needed to specify responses to colours with higher UV reflectance. These findings may be used to optimize trap colours for monitoring to help develop integrated pest management strategies for pollen beetle control.


Doering, T.F., Skellern, M., Watts, N. and Cook, S.M., 2012. Colour choice behaviour in the pollen beetle Meligethes aeneus (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae). Physiological entomology, 37(4), pp.360-378.

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Category: Photonics & Optoelectronics

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