Aphid parasitoids are commonly used in the biological control of aphids. However, their success in biological control largely depends on the availability of carbohydrate-rich food as an energy source for maintenance and reproduction. Therefore, as these resources have become rare in modern agricultural systems, external sugar sources like flowering plants or artificial sugar solutions are more and more used to provide the biocontrol agents with the necessary sugars. When developing such artificial food sources, it is essential to carefully select the sugars that best support the target parasitoids without benefiting non-target insects, such as pest insects or hyperparasitoids. Here, we investigated the gustatory response and longevity of two commonly used aphid parasitoids (Aphidius colemani and Aphidius matricariae) and their hyperparasitoid Dendrocerus aphidum when provided with one of eight plant- and/or insect-derived sugars (fructose, galactose, glucose, melibiose, melezitose, rhamnose, sucrose and trehalose). Our results showed that the studied insect species consumed the largest amounts of sugars that are most commonly found in honeydew (sucrose, fructose, glucose and melezitose) and also survived best when feeding on these sugars. Both Aphidius spp. survived well on melibiose, whereas D. aphidum performed poorly on this sugar. When melibiose was offered in a mixture with glucose, a significant reduction in longevity was observed for D. aphidum when compared to glucose only, while this was less pronounced for Aphidius spp. This knowledge can be exploited in tailoring food sources to selectively support Aphidius parasitoids, enhancing the biological control of aphids.
Goelen, T., Baets, D., Kos, M., Paulussen, C., Lenaerts, M., Rediers, H., Wäckers, F. L., Jacquemyn, H., & Lievens, B. (2018). Gustatory response and longevity in Aphidius parasitoids and their hyperparasitoid Dendrocerus aphidum. Journal of Pest Science, Online. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10340-017-0907-3