Effect of parasitism on flight behavior of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines

Ying Zhang, Kongming Wu, Kris A.G. Wyckhuys, George E. Heimpel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Many aphid species possess wingless (apterous) and winged (alate) stages, both of which can harbor parasitoids at various developmental stages. Alates can either be parasitized directly or can bear parasitoids eggs or larvae resulting from prior parasitism of alatoid nymphs. Winged aphids bearing parasitoid eggs or young larvae eventually still engage in long-distance flights, thereby facilitating parasitoid dispersal. This may have a number of important implications for biological control of aphids by parasitoids. In this study, we determined the effect of parasitism by Aphelinus varipes (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae) on wing development and flight of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines (Hemiptera: Aphididae). We also quantified the influence of aphid flight distance on subsequent A. varipes development. Parasitism by A. varipes was allowed at different A. glycines developmental stages (i.e., alatoid 3rd and 4th-instar nymphs, alates) and subsequent aphid flight was measured using a computer-monitored flight mill. Only 35% of aphids parasitized as L3 alatoid nymphs produced normal winged adults compared to 100% of L4 alatoids. Flight performance of aphids parasitized as 4th-instar alatoid nymphs 24 or 48 h prior to testing was similar to that of un-parasitized alates of identical age, but declined sharply for alates that had been parasitized as 4th-instar alatoid nymphs 72 and 96 h prior to testing. Flight performance of aphids parasitized as alate adults for 24 h was not significantly different from un-parasitized alates of comparable ages. Flight distance did not affect parasitoid larval or pupal development times, or the percent mummification of parasitized aphids. Our results have implications for natural biological control of A. glycines in Asia and classical biological control of the soybean aphid in North America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-479
Number of pages5
JournalBiological Control
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Dengfa Cheng (Institute of Plant protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing) for providing the aphid flight-mill. This research was supported by financial assistance from National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 30625028 ), Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology ( 2006CB102007 ), and NCSRPC and USDA RAMP funding.


  • Aphelinus varipes
  • Aphid dispersal flight
  • Aphis glycines
  • Parasitoid dispersal
  • Wing development

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