Insect survival in the presence of contact insecticides may be through physiological mechanisms or avoidance of contact with the compound. Curiously, although the first alternative is the object of frequent attention, the second is often neglected, but both may lead to insecticide resistance. Preliminary evidence for both physiological and behavioral resistance to pyrethroids has been obtained for a few strains of the maize weevil Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Here we carried out a more comprehensive survey using 15 populations of S. zeamais, by examining a long-used but relatively little studied organophosphate - fenitrothion, recording not only physiological resistance, but also the behavioral responses to exposure. Physiological resistance to fenitrothion among populations of S. zeamais reached low to moderate levels (ranging from 0.9 to 14.1× at the LC50), an increase in resistance levels compared with previous studies. Fenitrothion-induced behavioral avoidance varied among populations, particularly regarding insecticide irritability (i.e., avoidance after contact with fenitrothion), but the behavioral responses observed were mainly stimulus-independent. However, there was no correlation between physiological and behavioral resistance to fenitrothion in S. zeamais populations. Both survival strategies to fenitrothion - facing or fleeing the insecticide exposure, were observed and may co-occur in a single population, emphasizing the need of assessing both responses and their relative importance in designing management programs against stored-product insects. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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