Multiple host use by a sap-sucking membracid: population consequences of nymphal development on primary and secondary host plant species
Aconophora compressa is a gregarious, sap-sucking insect that uses multiple host plant species. Nymphal host plant species (and variety) significantly affected nymphal survival, nymphal development rate and the subsequent size and fecundity of adults, with fiddlewood (Citharexylum spinosum) being significantly best in all respects. Nymphs that developed on a relatively poor host (Duranta erecta var “geisha girl”) and which were moved to fiddlewood as adults laid significantly fewer eggs (mean ± SE = 836 ± 130) than those that developed solely on fiddlewood (1,329 ± 105). Adults on geisha girl, regardless of having been reared as nymphs on fiddlewood or geisha girl, laid significantly fewer eggs (342 ± 83 and 317 ± 74, respectively) than adults on fiddlewood. A simple model that incorporates host plant related survival, development rate and fecundity suggests that the population dynamics of A. compressa are governed mainly by fiddlewood, the primary host. The results have general implications for understanding the population dynamics of herbivores that use multiple host plant species, and also for the way in which weed biological control host testing methods should be conducted.
KeywordsAconophoracompressa Biological control Fiddlewood Lantana Polyphagy Reciprocal host plant transfer
Thanks to Alan Fletcher Research Station for glasshouse space to conduct these experiments and Wallum Nurseries Pty Ltd for providing plants that were otherwise unavailable. Thanks to Jayd McCarthy, Noel Wakerley, Patrick Rogers, John Adler and Gio Fichera for providing assistance over the course of experiments. S. Raghu, K. Dhileepan, Bill Palmer and two anonymous reviewers helped considerably in the development of this paper. This research was funded by a PhD scholarship from the CRC for Australian Weed Management.
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