Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 25–32 | Cite as

Aphidius ervi Preferentially Attacks the Green Morph of the Pea Aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum

  • R. Libbrecht
  • D. M. Gwynn
  • M. D. E. FellowesEmail author

The pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum Harris (Hemiptera: Aphididae) is found in red and green color morphs. Previous work has suggested that the aphidiine parasitoid Aphidius ervi Haliday preferentially attacks green pea aphids in the field. It is not clear whether these results reflect a real preference, or some unknown clonal difference, such as in immunity, between the aphids used in the previous studies. We used three susceptibility-matched pairs of red and green morph pea aphid clones to test for preferences. In a no-choice situation, the parasitoids attacked equal proportions of each color morph. When provided with a choice, A. ervi was significantly more likely to oviposit into colonies formed from green morphs when the neighboring colony was formed from red morph aphids. In contrast, red morphs were less likely to be attacked when their neighboring colony was of the green morph. By preferentially attacking green colonies, A. ervi may reduce the likelihood of intraguild predation, as it is suggested that visually foraging predators preferentially attack red aphid colonies. Furthermore, if this host choice behavior is replicated in the field, we speculate that color morphs of the pea aphid may interact indirectly through their shared natural enemies, leading to intraspecific apparent competition.


Acyrthosiphon pisum Aphidius ervi apparent competition parasitoid host choice oviposition behavior polymorphism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Libbrecht
    • 1
    • 2
  • D. M. Gwynn
    • 1
  • M. D. E. Fellowes
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Reading, WhiteknightsReadingUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Agrocampus RennesRennes cedexFrance

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