Comparing floral nectar and aphid honeydew diets on the longevity and nutrient levels of a parasitoid wasp

Jana C. Lee, George E. Heimpel, Gary L. Leibee

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We compared the effects of floral nectar from buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum Moench, and honeydew produced by the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura (Homoptera: Aphididae), on longevity, nutrient levels, and egg loads of the parasitoid Diadegma insulare Cresson (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae). Diadegma insulare lived for 2 days in control treatments of water or clean soybean leaves, for 6-7 days with honeydew, and in excess of 2 weeks with buckwheat nectar. Potential reasons for the superiority of buckwheat nectar over soybean aphid honeydew for extending the longevity of parasitoids include: (i) parasitoids ingest more sugars from floral sources, (ii) oligosaccharides in honeydew have a lower nutritional value than nectar sugars, and (iii) honeydew has antagonistic compounds. Overall sugar levels were lower in honeydew- vs. nectar-fed female wasps, suggesting a lower feeding rate, but other explanations cannot be excluded. Diadegma insulare eclosed with high levels of lipids and glycogen, and low levels of gut and storage sugars. All carbohydrates increased over the life of both nectar- and honeydew-fed wasps, but remained low or decreased in starved wasps. Lipid levels declined over the lifespan of female wasps, but females fed floral nectar showed the slowest rate of lipid decline. Diet did not affect egg load, probably because the females were not given hosts in the experiment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-199
Number of pages11
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2004


  • Anthrone test
  • Diadegma insulare
  • Egg load
  • Fructose
  • Glycogen
  • Hymenoptera
  • Ichneumonidae
  • Lipid
  • Sugar feeding


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