Indexed on: 28 Aug '15Published on: 28 Aug '15Published in: Environmental entomology
In the southern plains of the United States, winter-adapted canola (Brassica napus L.) is a recently introduced annual oilseed crop that has rapidly increased in hectares during the past 10 yr. Winter canola fields are infested annually with populations of Brevicoryne brassicae (L.) and Lipaphis erysimi (Kaltenbach), and these Brassica specialists are known to sequester plant volatiles from host plants, producing a chemical defense system against predators. Myzus persicae (Sulzer) is also common in winter canola fields, but as a generalist herbivore, does not sequester plant compounds. These three aphid species are expected to affect predator survival and development in very different ways. We conducted laboratory studies to 1) determine whether Hippodamia convergens (Guérin-Méneville) and Chrysoperla carnea (Stephens) larvae demonstrate feeding preferences among winter canola aphids and 2) describe the suitability of these prey species. Predators demonstrated no significant preference among prey, and each aphid species was suitable for predator survival to the adult stage. However, prey species significantly affected development times and adult weights of each predator species. Overall, predator development was delayed and surviving adults weighed less when provided with L. erysimi or B. brassicae, which sequestered high levels of indole glucosinolates from their host plants. Our results indicate that although common winter canola aphids were suitable prey for H. convergens and C. carnea, qualitative differences in nutritional suitability exist between Brassica-specialist aphids and the generalist M. persicae. These differences appear to be influenced by levels of sequestered plant compounds that are toxic to aphid predators.