Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 91, Issue 1, pp 351–360 | Cite as

Gustatory response and longevity in Aphidius parasitoids and their hyperparasitoid Dendrocerus aphidum

  • Tim Goelen
  • Dieter Baets
  • Martine Kos
  • Caroline Paulussen
  • Marijke Lenaerts
  • Hans Rediers
  • Felix Wäckers
  • Hans Jacquemyn
  • Bart Lievens
Original Paper


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.


Aphidius Capillary feeder assay Dendrocerus aphidum Longevity Sugar consumption 



We are grateful to the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO) for supporting this research. Additionally, we would like to thank all PME & BIM colleagues who helped during the course of the experiments.


This work was supported by the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO) (TG is a SB PhD fellow at FWO (project 1S15116316 N)).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

This article does not contain studies with humans participants performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

10340_2017_907_MOESM1_ESM.doc (2.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 2637 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Process Microbial Ecology and Bioinspirational Management (PME&BIM), Department of Microbial and Molecular SystemsKU Leuven, Campus De NayerSint-Katelijne-WaverBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Terrestrial EcologyNetherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)WageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.BiobestWesterloBelgium
  4. 4.Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster UniversityLancasterUK
  5. 5.Plant Conservation and Population Biology, Biology DepartmentKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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