Feeding on sugar-rich foods such as nectar and honeydew is important for survival of many adult parasitoids. Especially in agricultural systems, honeydew is often the most prevalent carbohydrate source. However, relative to plant nectar, honeydew may be relatively unsuitable, as a result of an unfavourable sugar composition or the presence of secondary plant compounds. We studied survival of the aphid parasitoid Aphidius ervi Haliday (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) on honeydew collected from various aphid species feeding on potato (Solanum tuberosum L., cv. Desiree) (Solanaceae), wheat (Triticum aestivum L., cv. Bobwhite) (Poaceae), or artificial diet, as well as the sugar composition of the different honeydews. Honeydews from the tested aphid species on potato, wheat, or artificial diet were found to be relatively suitable food sources for adult A. ervi, although not always as suitable as a 2 M sucrose solution. There were differences in honeydew sugar composition among the different aphid species on the various host plants. Multivariate statistics showed that the factor 'aphid species' had a significant influence on the sugar composition of the honeydew, explaining 27% of the variation in the potato system and 89% in the wheat system. When exploring the relationship between carbohydrate composition of the honeydews from aphids on potato and wheat plants, and their nutritional value for A. ervi, data revealed that differences in parasitoid longevity can to some extent be explained by carbohydrate composition. Furthermore, our results confirm that sucrose and its hexose components glucose and fructose are very suitable carbohydrate sources for hymenopteran parasitoids and show that parasitoid survival on an equimolar solution of the two monosaccharides glucose and fructose does not exceed performance on the disaccharide sucrose. © 2007 The Authors Journal compilation © 2007 The Netherlands Entomological Society.
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