Arthropod-Plant Interactions

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 87–98 | Cite as

Multiple host use by a sap-sucking membracid: population consequences of nymphal development on primary and secondary host plant species

  • Andrew G. MannersEmail author
  • Gimme H. Walter
Original Paper


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.


Aconophoracompressa 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.


  1. Abrams PA (2006) The effects of switching behavior on the evolutionary diversification of generalist consumers. Am Nat 168:645–659. doi: 10.1086/507878 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Dhileepan K, Trevino M, Raghu S (2006) Temporal patterns in incidence and abundance of Aconophora compressa (Hemiptera: Membracidae), a biological control agent for Lantana camara, on target and nontarget plants. Environ Entomol 35:1001–1012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dhileepan K, Trevino M, Snow EL (2007) Specificity of Carvalhotingis visenda (Hemiptera: Tingidae) as a biological control agent for cat’s claw creeper Macfadyena unguis-cati (Bignoniaceae) in Australia. Biol Control 41:283–290. doi: 10.1016/j.biocontrol.2007.02.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gols R, Raaijmakers CE, van Dam NM, Dicke M, Bukovinszky T, Harvey JA (2007) Temporal changes affect plant chemistry and tritrophic interactions. Basic Appl Ecol 8:421–433. doi: 10.1016/j.baae.2006.09.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Heard TA (1997) Host range testing of insects. In: Julien MH, White G (eds) Biological control of weeds: theory and practical application. ACIAR monograph, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  6. Heystek F, Baars JR (2005) Biology and host range of Aconophora compressa, a candidate considered as a biocontrol agent of Lantana camara in Africa. Biocontrol 50:359–373. doi: 10.1007/s10526-004-0456-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hurlbert SH (1984) Pseudoreplication and the design of ecological field experiments. Ecol Monogr 54:187–211. doi: 10.2307/1942661 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Johnson DH (2006) The many faces of replication. Crop Sci 46:2486–2491. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2006.04.0277 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Jonas JL, Joern A (2008) Host-plant quality alters grass/forb consumption by a mixed-feeding insect herbivore, Melanoplus bivittatus (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Ecol Entomol 33:546–554. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2008.01004.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kay AD, Schade JD, Ogdahl M, Wesserle EO, Hobbie SE (2007) Fire effects on insect herbivores in an oak savanna: the role of light and nutrients. Ecol Entomol 32:754–761. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2007.00925.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Keller M (1998) Understanding host selection behaviour: the key to more effective host specificity testing. In: Withers TM, Barton Browne L, Stanley JN (eds) Host specificity in Australasia: towards improved assays for biological control. Forest Research, RotoruaGoogle Scholar
  12. Kelly CD (2006) Replicating empirical research in behavioral ecology: how and why it should be done but rarely ever is. Q Rev Biol 81:221–236. doi: 10.1086/506236 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Louda SM, Pemberton RW, Johnson MT, Follet PA (2003) Nontarget effects-the achille’s heel of biological control? Retrospective analysis to reduce risk associated with biocontrol introductions. Annu Rev Entomol 48:365–396. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.48.060402.102800 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Milne M, Walter GH (2000) Feeding and breeding across host plants within a locality by the widespread thrips Frankliniella schultzei, and the invasive potential of polyphagous herbivores. Divers Distrib 6:243–257. doi: 10.1046/j.1472-4642.2000.00089.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Murdoch WW (1969) Switching in general predators. Experiments on predator specificity and stability of prey populations. Ecol Monogr 39:335–354. doi: 10.2307/1942352 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Palmer WA, Wilson BW, Pullen KR (1996) The host range of Aconophora compressa Walker (Homoptera: Membracidae): a potential biological control agent for Lantana camara L. (Verbenaceae). Proc Entomol Soc Wash 98:617–624Google Scholar
  17. Palmer WA, Day MD, Dhileepan K, Snow EL, Mackey AP (2004) Analysis of the non-target attack by the lantana sap-sucking bug, Aconophora compressa, and its implications for biological control in Australia. In: Sindel BM, Johnson SB (eds) 14th Australian weeds conference, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, pp 341–344Google Scholar
  18. Pinheiro JC, Bates DM (2000) Mixed-effects models in S and S-plus. Springer-Verlag, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. R Development Core Team (2008) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0
  20. Rajapakse CNK, Walter GH, Moore CJ, Hull CD, Cribb BW (2006) Host recognition by a polyphagous lepidopteran (Helicoverpa armigera): primary host plants, host produced volatiles and neurosensory stimulation. Physiol Entomol 31:270–277. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3032.2006.00517.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Riipi M, Ossipov V, Lempa K, Haukioja E, Koricheva J, Ossipova S, Pihlaja K (2002) Seasonal changes in birch leaf chemistry: are there trade-offs between leaf growth, and accumulation of phenolics? Oecologia 130:380–390. doi: 10.1007/s00442-001-0826-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Riipi M, Haukioja E, Lempa K, Ossipov V, Ossipova S, Pihlaja K (2004) Ranking of individual mountain birch trees in terms of leaf chemistry: seasonal and annual variation. Chemoecology 14:31–43. doi: 10.1007/s00049-003-0256-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sands DPA, Brancatini VA (1991) A portable penetrometer for measuring leaf toughness in insect herbivory studies. Proc Entomol Soc Wash 93:786–788Google Scholar
  24. Schoonhoven LM, Van Loon JJA, Dicke M (2005) Insect–plant biology. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Sheppard AW, van Klinken RD, Heard TA (2005) Scientific advances in the analysis of direct risks of weed biological control agents to nontarget plants. Biol Control 35:215–226. doi: 10.1016/j.biocontrol.2005.05.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sheppard AW, Hosking JR, Sagliocco JL, Thomann T, Downey PO, Kwong RM (2006) Biological control of brooms in Australia: an update. In: 15th Australian weeds conference, papers and proceedings. Managing weeds in a changing climate, Adelaide, South Australia, 24–28 September 2006, pp 573–576Google Scholar
  27. Simberloff D, Stiling P (1996) How risky is biological control? Ecology 77:1965–1974. doi: 10.2307/2265693 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sipura M, Tahvanainen J (2000) Shading enhances the quality of willow leaves to leaf beetles—but does it matter? Oikos 91:550–558. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0706.2000.910317.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Snow EL, Dhileepan K (2008) The suitability of non-target native mangroves for the survival and development of the lantana bug Aconophora compressa, an introduced weed biological control agent. Biocontrol 53:699–707. doi: 10.1007/s10526-007-9085-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Tableman M, Kim JS (2004) Survival analysis using S: analysis of time-to-event data. Chapman & Hall, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  31. Van Hezewijk BH, De Clerck-Floate RA, Moyer JR (2008) Effect of nitrogen on the preference and performance of a biological control agent for an invasive plant. Biol Control 46:332–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Velasco LRI, Walter GH (1993) Potential of host-switching in Nezara viridula (Hemiptera, Pentatomidae) to enhance survival and reproduction. Environ Entomol 22:326–333Google Scholar
  33. Walter GH, Benfield MD (1994) Temporal host plant use in three polyphagous Heliothinae, with special reference to Helicoverpa punctigera (Wallengren) (Noctuidae: Lepidoptera). Aust J Ecol 19:458–465. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9993.1994.tb00512.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zalucki MP, Murray DAH, Gregg PC, Fitt GP, Twine PH, Jones C (1994) Ecology of Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) and Heliothis punctigera (Wallengren) in the inland of Australia—larval sampling and host plant relationships during winter and spring. Aust J Zool 42:329–346. doi: 10.1071/ZO9940329 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CRC for Australian Weed ManagementThe University of Queensland, School of Biological SciencesBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations