Date of this Version
Ecological Entomology 37:3 (June 2012), pp. 184–192; doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2012.01351.x
1. Environmental cues associated with prey are known to increase predator foraging efficiency. Ladybird larvae are major predators of aphids. The sugary excretion of aphids (honeydew) has been proposed to serve as a prey-associated cue for ladybird larvae.
2. Ladybird larvae are regularly found on the ground moving between plants or after falling off plants. The use of prey-associated cues would be particularly beneficial for ladybird larvae on the ground in that such cues would help them to decide which plants to climb because aphids are patchily distributed within as well as amongst plants and, as a result, many plants are either not infested with aphids or do not host an aphid species of high nutritional value for ladybird larvae.
3. Laboratory experiments with larvae of Hippodamia convergens Guérin-Méneville (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) were carried out to explore whether honeydew accumulated on the ground is used as a foraging cue. The study also investigated whether, if honeydew is a foraging cue, larvae show differential responses to honeydew of high-quality prey Acyrthosiphon pisum Harris compared with that of low-quality prey Aphis fabae Scopoli (both: Homoptera: Aphididae).
4. Hippodamia convergens larvae stayed longer in areas containing honeydew but did not engage in longer bouts of searching. Furthermore, larvae did not distinguish between honeydew from high- and low-quality aphid prey.