Influence of floral resources on sugar feeding and nutrient dynamics of a parasitoid in the field

Jana C. Lee, David A. Andow, George E. Heimpel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


1. To investigate how floral resources impact feeding and nutrient dynamics of parasitoids, the ichneumonid Diadegma insulare (Cresson) was monitored in cabbage fields with and without buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum Moench borders. Biochemical analyses of field-collected wasps determined whether sugar feeding occurred, and whether it enhanced nutrient levels and increased parasitism of diamondback larvae Plutella xylostella (L.) from 2000 to 2003. The effects of experimental spatial scale on sugar feeding dynamics were also evaluated in 2001. 2. The majority of D. insulare foraging on cabbage had fed upon sugar, but floral borders did not consistently increase the proportion of sugar-fed wasps or their levels of glycogen and lipid over all 4 years. Floral borders increased sugar storage by females in 2001. More females fed on sugar when experimental plots were separated by at least 800 m compared with 67 m. 3. Feeding on buckwheat nectar vs. honeydew produced by the soybean aphid Aphis glycines Matsumura in surrounding fields was distinguished using the ratio of fructose to total sugars, which was higher in nectar- than in honeydew-fed parasitoids. Floral borders increased the probability that females collected from adjacent crops were nectar-fed in 2002, demonstrating that floral resources were utilised by foraging parasitoids. Diadegma insulare that fed upon any sugar source had higher levels of sugar and glycogen than unfed wasps, and feeding on honeydew appeared to enhance nutrient storage. 4. The prevalence of sugar or nectar feeding by female D. insulare was not correlated with parasitism rates over the 4 years from all plots, but nectar feeding was positively correlated with parasitism rates within floral plots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-480
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Entomology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Anthrone test
  • Aphid honeydew
  • Buckwheat
  • Diadegma insulare
  • Feeding ecology
  • Floral nectar
  • Glycogen
  • Habitat diversification
  • Lipids


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