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Concept: Hemiptera


Bed bugs have shown a recent and rapid global expansion that has been suggested to be caused by cheap air travel. How a small, flightless and anachoretic insect that hides within its host’s sleeping area manages to travel long distances is not yet clear. Bed bugs are attracted to the odour of sleeping humans and we suggest that soiled clothing may present a similarly attractive cue, allowing bed bugs to ‘hitch-hike’ around the world after aggregating in the laundry bags of travellers. We show that (1) soiled clothing is significantly more attractive than clean clothing to active bed bugs moving within a bedroom sized arena and (2) elevation of CO2 to a level that simulates human occupancy in the same arena appears to initiate search behaviour rather than direct it. Our results show, for the first time, how leaving worn clothing exposed in sleeping areas when travelling can be exploited by bed bugs to facilitate passive dispersal.

Concepts: Human, Aggregate, Hemiptera, Suggestion, Travel, Traveler, Active, Bedbug


The assassin bug venom system plays diverse roles in prey capture, defence and extra-oral digestion, but it is poorly characterised, partly due to its anatomical complexity. Here we demonstrate that this complexity results from numerous adaptations that enable assassin bugs to modulate the composition of their venom in a context-dependent manner. Gland reconstructions from multimodal imaging reveal three distinct venom gland lumens: the anterior main gland (AMG); posterior main gland (PMG); and accessory gland (AG). Transcriptomic and proteomic experiments demonstrate that the AMG and PMG produce and accumulate distinct sets of venom proteins and peptides. PMG venom, which can be elicited by electrostimulation, potently paralyses and kills prey insects. In contrast, AMG venom elicited by harassment does not paralyse prey insects, suggesting a defensive role. Our data suggest that assassin bugs produce offensive and defensive venoms in anatomically distinct glands, an evolutionary adaptation that, to our knowledge, has not been described for any other venomous animal.

Concepts: Evolution, Gland, Hemiptera, Toxin, Caterpillar, Venom, Scorpion, Spider bite


Among herbivorous insects that have exploited agro-ecosystems, the peach-potato aphid, Myzus persicae, is recognized as one of the most important agricultural pests worldwide. Uses over 400 plant species and has evolved different insecticides resistance mechanisms. As M. persicae feeds upon a huge diversity of hosts, it has been exposed to a wide variety of plant allelochemicals, which probably have promoted a wide range of detoxification systems.

Concepts: Insect, Hemiptera, Aphididae, Myzus persicae


In agricultural ecosystems, arthropod herbivores and fungal pathogens are likely to colonise the same plant and may therefore affect each other directly or indirectly. The fungus that causes powdery mildew (Blumeria graminis tritici) and cereal aphids are important pests of wheat but interactions between them have seldom been investigated. We studied the effects of powdery mildew of wheat on two cereal aphid species, Metopolophium dirhodum and Rhopalosiphum padi. We hypothesized that aphid number and size will be smaller on powdery mildew-infected plants than on non-infected plants. In a first experiment we used six commercially available wheat varieties whereas in the second experiment we used a genetically modified (GM) mildew-resistant wheat line and its non-transgenic sister line. Because the two lines differed only in the presence of the transgene and in powdery mildew resistance, experiment 2 avoided the confounding effect of variety. In both experiments, the number of M. dirhodum but not of R. padi was reduced by powdery mildew infection. Transgenic mildew-resistant lines therefore harboured bigger aphid populations than the non-transgenic lines. For both aphid species individual size was mostly influenced by aphid number. Our results indicate that plants that are protected from a particular pest (powdery mildew) became more favourable for another pest (aphids).

Concepts: Plant, Fungus, Experiment, Hemiptera, Plant pathogens and diseases, Aphid, Blumeria graminis, Powdery mildew


Electrical penetration graphs (DC EPG) were used to monitor the feeding behavior of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum Harris (Hemiptera: Aphididae) exposed to the flavonoids luteolin and genistein in artificial diets. The EPG patterns generated by aphids feeding on plants were used to interpret the patterns generated on the artificial diets. Addition of flavonoids to the diets generally prolonged the period of stylet probing (as indicated by EPG pattern d-C), reduced salivation (as indicated by pattern d-E1) and passive ingestion (as indicated by pattern d-E2), and also delayed the onset of salivation and passive ingestion. At higher concentrations (≥100 μg cm(-3) for luteolin, ≥1,000 μg cm(-3) for genistein), the flavonoids completely stopped salivation and passive ingestion. In most events associated with active ingestion (EPG pattern d-G), however, differences in feeding behavior did not statistically differ between the control diet and those with flavonoids; luteolin, and genistein only at 10 μg cm(-3) prolonged the time until the first d-G pattern was observed. The current findings demonstrate detrimental effects of the isoflavone genistein and the flavone luteolin on the feeding behavior of the pea aphid, A. pisum. This can be employed to create plants which are resistant to aphids and other herbivores.

Concepts: Insect, Isoflavones, Flavonoid, Hemiptera, Flavones, Aphid, Sternorrhyncha, Aphididae


MIRID PLANT BUGS (HEMIPTERA: Miridae) are economically important insect pests of many crops worldwide. The western tarnished plant bug Lygus hesperus Knight is a pest of cotton, alfalfa, fruit and vegetable crops, and potentially of several emerging biofuel and natural product feedstocks in the western US. However, little is known about the underlying molecular genetics, biochemistry, or physiology of L. hesperus, including their ability to survive extreme environmental conditions.

Concepts: Agriculture, Molecular biology, Biology, Insect, Hemiptera, Heteroptera, Lygus, Miridae


Stylet sheath formation is a common feature among phytophagous hemipterans. These sheaths are considered essential to promote a successful feeding event. Stylet sheath compositions are largely unknown and their mode of solidification remains to be elucidated. This report demonstrates the formation and solidification of in āere (in air) produced stylet sheaths by six hemipteran families: Diaphorina citri (Psyllidae, Asian citrus psyllid), Aphis nerii (Aphididae, oleander/milkweed aphid), Toxoptera citricida (Aphididae, brown citrus aphid), Aphis gossypii (Aphididae, cotton melon aphid), Bemisia tabaci biotype B (Aleyrodidae, whitefly), Homalodisca vitripennis (Cicadellidae, glassy-winged sharpshooter), Ferrisia virgata (Pseudococcidae, striped mealybug), and Protopulvinaria pyriformis (Coccidae, pyriform scale). Examination of in āere produced stylet sheaths by confocal and scanning electron microscopy shows a common morphology of an initial flange laid down on the surface of the membrane followed by continuous hollow core structures with sequentially stacked hardened bulbous droplets. Single and multi-branched sheaths were common, whereas mealybug and scale insects typically produced multi-branched sheaths. Micrographs of the in āere formed flanges indicate flange sealing upon stylet bundle extraction in D. citri and the aphids, while the B. tabaci whitefly and H. vitripennis glassy-winged sharpshooter flanges remain unsealed. Structural similarity of in āere sheaths are apparent in stylet sheaths formed in planta, in artificial diets, or in water. The use of ‘Solvy’, a dissolvable membrane, for intact stylet sheath isolation is reported. These observations illustrate for the first time this mode of stylet sheath synthesis adding to the understanding of stylet sheath formation in phytophagous hemipterans and providing tools for future use in structural and compositional analysis.

Concepts: Hemiptera, Pest insects, Aphid, Sternorrhyncha, Aphididae, Whitefly, Insect vectors of plant pathogens, Scale insect


Aphids commonly harbor bacterial facultative symbionts that have a variety of effects upon their aphid hosts, including defense against hymenopteran parasitoids and fungal pathogens. The soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura (Hemiptera: Aphididae), is infected with the symbiont Arsenophonus sp., which has an unknown role in its aphid host. Our research goals were to document the infection frequency and diversity of the symbiont in field-collected soybean aphids, and to determine whether Arsenophonus is defending soybean aphid against natural enemies. We performed diagnostic PCR and sequenced four Arsenophonus genes in soybean aphids from their native and introduced range to estimate infection frequency and genetic diversity, and found that Arsenophonus infection is highly prevalent and genetically uniform. To evaluate the defensive role of Arsenophonus, we cured two aphid genotypes of their natural Arsenophonus infection through ampicillin microinjection, resulting in infected and uninfected isolines within the same genetic background. These isolines were subjected to parasitoid assays using a recently introduced biological control agent, Binodoxys communis [Braconidae], a naturally recruited parasitoid, Aphelinus certus [Aphelinidae], and a commercially available biological control agent, Aphidius colemani [Braconidae]. We also assayed the effect of the common aphid fungal pathogen, Pandora neoaphidis (Remaudiere & Hennebert) Humber (Entomophthorales: Entomophthoraceae), on the same aphid isolines. We did not find differences in successful parasitism for any of the parasitoid species, nor did we find differences in P. neoaphidis infection between our treatments. Our conclusion is that Arsenophonus does not defend its soybean aphid host against these major parasitoid and fungal natural enemies.

Concepts: Bacteria, Evolution, Parasitism, Hemiptera, Biological pest control, Parasitoid, Aphididae, Soybean aphid


Numerous studies have investigated cospeciation between parasites and their hosts, but there have been few studies concerning parasitoids and insect hosts. The high diversity and host specialization observed in Anicetus species suggest that speciation and adaptive radiation might take place with species diversification in scale insect hosts. Here we examined the evolutionary history of the association between Anicetus species and their scale insect hosts via distance-based and tree-based methods.

Concepts: Evolution, Species, Insect, Speciation, Hemiptera, Ant, Parasitoid, Scale insect


The Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama, is the insect vector of the pathogen causing huanglongbing. We selected three botanical oils to evaluate behavioral activity against D. citri. In laboratory olfactometer assays, fir oil was repellent to D. citri females, while litsea and citronella oils elicited no response from D. citri females. In choice settling experiments, D. citri settled almost completely on control plants rather than on plants treated with fir oil at a 9.5 mg/day release rate. Therefore, we conducted field trials to determine if fir oil reduced D. citri densities in citrus groves. We found no repellency of D. citri from sweet orange resets that were treated with fir oil dispensers releasing 10.4 g/day/tree as compared with control plots. However, we found a two-week decrease in populations of D. citri as compared with controls when the deployment rate of these dispensers was doubled. Our results suggest that treatment of citrus with fir oil may have limited activity as a stand-alone management tool for D. citri and would require integration with other management practices.

Concepts: Water, Citrus, Liquid, Fruit, Orange, Hemiptera, Essential oil, Insect repellent