Laboratory of Insects, Department of Morphology, São Paulo State University (UNESP), Institute of Biosciences, Botucatu, Brazil; Electron Microscopy Center of the Institute of Biosciences of Botucatu, UNESP, SP, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]
Due to increased use of agrochemicals and growing concerns about ecotoxicology, the development of new insecticides, moving away from those with neurotoxic and broad spectrum effects towards insecticides that are safer for the environment and nontarget beneficial species, has been a research priority. Novaluron stands out among these newer insecticides, is an insect growth regulator that is used for the control of insect pests in crops grown close to mulberry plantations. Mulberry serves as food for the silkworm Bombyx mori, which is a nontarget insect of great economic importance to silk production. We investigated the lethal and sublethal effects of Novaluron on the development of B. mori. Larvae were segregated into experimental groups: the control groups (CGs) and the treatment groups (TGs), which were treated with the Novaluron concentration of 0.15 mL/L. Following exposure, we analyzed: larval mortality, changes in the insect life cicle and cytotoxic effects on the midgut cells. This is the first report about the Novaluron's effects on B.mori. We detected rupture in the integument, complete cessation of feeding, late development, incomplete ecdysis and production of defective cocoons. After 240 h of exposure, there was 100% mortality in TG larvae exposed in the 3rd instar and 20% mortality from larvae exposed in the 5th instar. Cytotoxic effects was observed, such as dilation of cells, emission of cytoplasmic protrusions, extreme rarefaction of the cytoplasm and nuclei, dilation of the endoplasmic reticulum in addition to changes in mitochondria, the presence of large digestive vacuoles and intercellular spaces and the presence of active caspase. Novaluron exposure impairs the midgut and may affect the physiological functions of this organ. Novaluron additionally compromises several phases of insect development, indicating the importance of toxicology studies that utilize different life stages of nontarget species to evaluate the safe use of insecticides.