Stink bugs (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) comprise a critically important insect pest complex affecting 12 major crops worldwide including cotton. In the US, stink bug damage to developing cotton bolls causes boll abscission, lint staining, reduced fiber quality, and reduced yields with estimated losses ranging from 10 to 60 million dollars annually. Unfortunately, scouting for stink bug damage in the field is laborious and excessively time consuming. To improve scouting accuracy and efficiency, we investigated fluorescence changes in cotton boll tissues as a result of stink bug feeding.
Fluorescent imaging under long-wave ultraviolet light showed that stink bug-damaged lint, the inner carpal wall, and the outside of the boll emitted strong blue-green fluorescence in a circular region near the puncture wound, whereas undamaged tissue emissions occurred at different wavelengths; the much weaker emission of undamaged tissue was dominated by chlorophyll fluorescence. We further characterized the optimum emission and excitation spectra to distinguish between stink bug damaged bolls from undamaged bolls.
The observed characteristic fluorescence peaks associated with stink bug damage give rise to a fluorescence-based method to rapidly distinguish between undamaged and stink bug damaged cotton bolls. Based on the fluorescent fingerprint, we envision a fluorescence reflectance imaging or a fluorescence ratiometric device to assist pest management professionals with rapidly determining the extent of stink bug damage in a cotton field.||