Eur. J. Entomol. 102 (2): 155-160, 2005 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2005.025

Honeydew production and honeydew sugar composition of polyphagous black bean aphid, Aphis fabae (Hemiptera: Aphididae) on various host plants and implications for ant-attendance

Melanie K. FISCHER, Wolfgang VÖLKL, Klaus H. HOFFMANN*
Department of Animal Ecology I, University of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany

The black bean aphid, Aphis fabae, is polyphagous and its life cycle involves seasonal migration between summer and winter host plants. The aphids are regularly tended by honeydew-collecting ants. This study investigates whether differences exist in honeydew production and honeydew sugar composition for A. fabae subspecies feeding on various host plants and whether such differences reflect differences in the intensity of ant-atttendance (Lasius niger).
A. f. fabae feeding on the perennial summer host, Tanacetum vulgare, produced twice the amount of honeydew (ca. 110 µg per aphid . h-1) than when feeding on the annual host plants Vicia faba or Chenopodium album. Honeydew production of A. f. cirsiiacanthoides feeding on the creeping thistle Cirsium arvense was the highest measured in this study (ca. 150 µg per aphid . h-1). Total sugar concentration in the honeydew of A. f. fabae did not differ when feeding on various summer hosts, whereas the honeydew of A. f. cirsiiacanthoides on C. arvense contained a significantly higher amount of total sugars. The trisaccharide melezitose was the dominant sugar in all the honeydew samples, except for the honeydew of A. f. fabae and A. f. evonymi feeding on the woody winter host plant Evonymus europaeus. The highest proportion of melezitose (80% of total sugars) was found in the honeydew of A. f. cirsiiacanthoides feeding on C. arvense. In this subspecies, the intensity of ant-attendance was also highest. The results confirm our hypothesis, that the sugar richness of the honeydew (rate of honeydew secretion × total sugar concentration) along with the presence of the attractant sugar melezitose are the critical factors in determining the extent of ant-attendance.
In A. f. fabae feeding on the spindle tree E. europaeus, the total sugar concentration of the honeydew as well as the sugar composition differed significantly between generations.

Keywords: Aphids, summer host, winter host, honeydew, melezitose, ant-attendance

Received: July 26, 2004; Accepted: November 15, 2004; Published: May 3, 2005

Download citation

References

  1. AUCLAIR J.L. 1963: Aphid feeding and nutrition. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 8: 439-490 Go to original source...
  2. BONSER R., WRIGHT P.J., BAMENT S. & CHUKWU U.O. 1998: Optimal patch use by foraging workers of Lasius fuliginosus, L. niger and Myrmica ruginodis. Ecol. Entomol. 23: 15-21 Go to original source...
  3. BORNER C. 1952: Aphidae Europae Centralis. Mitt. Thuering. Bot. Ges. 4: 1-184
  4. BRISTOW C. 1984: Differential benefits from ant-attendance to FISCHER M.K. 2001: Die Zuckerzusammensetzung des Honigtaus bei verschiedenen Blattlausarten und die Konsequenzen fuer den Mutualismus Blattlaus-Ameise. PhD Thesis, University of Bayreuth, Germany
  5. FISCHER M.K. & SHINGLETON A.W. 2001: Host plant and ants influence the honeydew sugar composition of aphids. Funct. Ecol. 15: 544-550 Go to original source...
  6. FISCHER M.K., HOFFMANN K.H. & VOLKL W. 2001: Competition for mutualists in an ant-homopteran interaction mediated by hierarchies of ant attendance. Oikos 92: 531-541 Go to original source...
  7. FISCHER M.K., VOLKL W., SCHOPF R. & HOFFMANN K.H. 2002: Age-specific patterns in honeydew composition in the aphid Metopeurum fuscoviride: implications for ant-attendance. J. Insect Physiol. 48: 319-326 Go to original source...
  8. HENDRIX D.L., WEI Y. & LEGGET J.E. 1992: Homopteran honeydew is determined by both the insect and the plant species. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. (B) 101: 23-27 Go to original source...
  9. HERTEL R. & KUNKEL H. 1977: Einige Faktoren, welche die Honigtauzusammensetzung natuerlich wie auch holidisch ernaehrter Aphidenlarven beeinflussen. Apidologie 8: 427-436 Go to original source...
  10. HERZIG J. 1937: Ameisen und Blattlaeuse. Z. Angew. Entomol. 24: 367-435 Go to original source...
  11. KISS A. 1981: Melezitose, aphids and ants. Oikos 37: 382 MAURIZIO A. 1985: Honigtau-Honigtauhonig. In Kloft W.J., Maurizio A. & Kaeser W. (eds): Waldtracht und Waldhonig in der Imkerei. Ehrenwirth, Muenchen, pp. 268-295
  12. NOE R. & HAMMERSTEIN P. 1994: Biological markets: supply and demand determine the effect of partner choice in cooperation, mutualism and mating. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 35: 1-11 Go to original source...
  13. POWELL G. & HARDIE J. 2000: Host-selection behaviour by genetically identical aphids with different plant preferences. Physiol. Entomol. 25: 54-62 Go to original source...
  14. POWELL G. & HARDIE J. 2001: A potent, morph-specific parturition stimulant in the overwintering host plant of the black bean aphid, Aphis fabae. Physiol. Entomol. 26: 194-201 Go to original source...
  15. SOKAL R.R. & ROHLF 1995: Biometry. Freeman, New York, 887 pp
  16. VOLKL W., WOODRING J., FISCHER M., LORENZ M.W. & HOFFMANN K.H. 1999: Ant-aphid mutualisms: the impact of hontwo species of Homoptera on New York ironweed. J. Anim. Ecol. 53: 715-726
  17. DEL-CLARO K. & OLIVEIRA P.S. 1993: Ant-Homoptera interactions: do alternative sugar sources distract tending ants? Oikos 68: 202-206 Go to original source...
  18. DOUGLAS A.E. 1993: The nutritional quality of phloem sap utilized by natural aphid populations. Ecol. Entomol. 18: 31-38 Go to original source...
  19. ENGEL V., FISCHER M.K., WACKERS F.L. & VOLKL W. 2001: Interactions between extrafloral nectaries, aphids and ants: are there competition between plant and homopteran sugar sources? Oecologia 129: 577-584. eydew production and honeydew sugar composition on ant preferences. Oecologia 118: 483-491 Go to original source...
  20. WAY M.J. 1963: Mutualism between ants and honeydewproducing Homoptera. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 8: 307-344 Go to original source...
  21. WOODRING J., WIEDEMANN R., FISCHER M.K., HOFFMANN K.H. & VOLKL W. 2004: Honeydew amino acids in relation to sugars and their role in the establishment of ant-attendance in eight species of aphids feeding on tansy (Tanacetum vulgare). Physiol. Entomol. 29: 311-319 Go to original source...