Entomology, Department of


Date of this Version



Annals of the Entomological Society of America 106:4 (July 2013), pp. 524-539.

doi: 10.1603/AN13-15


U.S. Government Work


Electrical penetration graph (EPG) monitoring has been used extensively to elucidate mechanisms of resistance in plants to insect herbivores with piercing-sucking mouthparts. Characterization of waveforms produced by insects during stylet probing is essential to the application of this technology. In the studies described herein, a four-channel Backus and Bennett AC-DC monitor was used to characterize EPG waveforms produced by adults of two economically important chinch bug species: southern chinch bug, Blissus insularis Barber, feeding on St. Augustinegrass, and western chinch bug, Blissus occiduus Barber, feeding on buffalograss. This is only the third time a heteropterans species has been recorded by using EPG; it is also the first recording of adult heteropterans, and the first of Blissidae. Probing of chinch bugs was recorded with either AC or DC applied voltage, no applied voltage, or voltage switched between AC and DC mid-recording, at input impedances ranging from 106 to 1010Ω, plus 1013 Ω, to develop a waveform library. Waveforms exhibited by western and southern chinch bugs were similar, and both showed long periods of putative pathway and ingestion phases (typical of salivary sheath feeders) interspersed with shorter phases, termed transitional J wave and interruption. The J wave is suspected to be an X wave, that is, in EPG parlance, a stereotypical transition waveform that marks contact with a preferred ingestion tissue. The flexibility of using multiple input impedances with the AC-DC monitor was valuable for determining the electrical origin (resistance vs. electromotive force components) of the chinch bug waveforms. It was concluded that an input impedance of 107Ω, with either DC or AC applied voltage, is optimal to detect all resistance- and electromotive force–component waveforms produced during chinch bug probing. Knowledge of electrical origins suggested hypothesized biological meanings of the waveforms, before time-intensive future correlation experiments by using histology, microscopy, and other techniques.