Mines over matter: effects of foliar particulate matter on the herbivorous insect, Helicoverpa armigera

Amelie M. Vanderstock, Tanya Latty, Ryan J. Leonard, Dieter F. Hochuli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Coalmines, which are major contributors of particulate matter in the form of coal dust, are expanding globally into rural environments. However, ecological effects on organisms interacting with coal-dusted foliage in mining landscapes are unknown. We tested how the behaviour, development and survival of a polyphageous insect herbivore, Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is affected by consuming tomato leaves Lycopersicon esculentum laden with coal dust. We tested (a) feeding site establishment preference of neonates, (b) feeding behaviour and leaf consumption of late-instar larvae, (c) survival of neonates and (d) survival and development of late-instar larvae. We found that coal dust consumption increased the mortality of late-instar larvae but did not influence their development. Despite long-term implications for survival, late-instar larvae did not adjust their feeding behaviour or the amount of leaf material consumed in response to foliar coal dust. Contrastingly, when neonate H. armigera were given a choice, they avoided establishing themselves on the coal-dusted adaxial surface of leaves. Neonate mortality was 99% within 7 days, with no effect of coal dust. Our study provides the first data on the impact of coal dust on an insect herbivore. This has implications for ecological interactions in landscapes adjoining coalmines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-87
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Entomology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • air pollution
  • behaviour
  • coal dust
  • herbivore
  • Lepidoptera
  • survival

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