ID guide | introduced ants

Effects of tending by Solenopsis invicta (hymenoptera: Formicidae) on the sugar composition and concentration in the honeydew of an invasive mealybug, Phenacoccus solenopsis (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2015
Authors:A. M. Zhou, Wu, D., Liang, G. W., Lu, Y. Y., Xu, Y. J.
Secondary Authors:J. Wright
Pagination:n/a - n/a
Date Published:Jan-02-2015
Keywords:ant–mealybug mutualism, honeydew quantity and quality, sugar preferences

Mutualistic interactions between ants and hemipterans are mediated by the honeydew produced by the hemipterans. Previous works have demonstrated that the invasive mealybug Phenacoccus solenopsis produces abundant honeydew and attracts a large number of workers of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Mealybugs exhibit higher fecundity when tended by fire ants. The honeydew produced byP. solenopsis plays an important role in interactions between these two species. However, relatively few studies have focused on whether there is a cost to P. solenopsis mealybugs of being tended by S. invicta through changes in their excretion behavior and the quantity of honeydew produced. Our results indicated that the honeydew of P. solenopsis contains xylose, fructose, sucrose, trehalose, melezitose, and raffinose. The sugar concentration in the mealybug honeydew changed in an ant-tended treatment. When tended by fire ants, the mealybugs generated honeydew with a significantly decreased xylose concentration. In contrast, the droplets showed a considerable increase in the melezitose concentration. P. solenopsis excreted honeydew more frequently when tended by S. invicta, but the weights of the droplets excreted by the ant-tended mealybugs were significantly lower. In addition, S. invicta exhibited a significant preference for different sugars. Melezitose was visited more intensively than the other sugars in two choice tests. These results may suggest that, to attract more tending ants, mealybugs adjust their carbohydrate metabolism.

Short Title:Ethology
Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith