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The importance of honeydew as food for larvae of Chrysoperla carnea in the presence of aphids.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date02/2008
JournalJournal of Applied Entomology
Journal number1
Volume132
Number of pages8
Pages18-25
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Larvae of the common green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea are predacious and feed on a wide range of small, soft-bodied arthropods. In addition to their feeding on prey arthropods to cover their nutritional requirements for growth and development, the consumption of non-prey foods such as honeydew has been reported. It is commonly believed that these food supplements are primarily exploited by the larvae when prey is scarce or of low nutritional quality. Here, we assess whether C. carnea larvae also use honeydew when high-quality aphid prey are readily available. In a choice experiment, the feeding behaviour of C. carnea larvae was observed in the presence of both aphids and honeydew. The larvae were starved, aphid-fed, or honeydew-fed prior to the experiment. The time spent feeding on honeydew compared with feeding on aphids was highest for starved larvae and lowest for honeydew-fed larvae. Among the three treatments, the aphid-fed larvae spent the most time resting and the least time searching. In an additional experiment food intake was assessed in terms of weight change when larvae were provided with an ad libitum supply of either aphids or honeydew. Larvae yielded a significant lower relative weight increase on honeydew compared with aphids. The reduced weight increase on honeydew was compensated when larvae were subsequently provided with aphids, but not when honeydew was provided again. This study showed that (i) prior honeydew feeding reduces overall aphid consumption, and (ii) larvae do consume honeydew even after they have been given ad libitum access to aphids. The fact that larvae of C. carnea still use honeydew as a food source in the presence of suitable prey underlines the importance of carbohydrates as foods.