Insect herbivores, especially sap-feeders, are sensitive to host-plant nitrogen quantity. However, past studies present contradicting results on sap-feeder life history traits influenced by plant nitrogen supplementation. This study analyzed the bottom-up effects of below-recommended nitrogen fertilization rates (0, 0.021, 0.048, and 0.091 g N/liter) on life history and total protein and lipid contents of a significant pest species, Phenacoccus madeirensis Green (the Madeira mealybug) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae). Developmental durations and survivorship from egg to adulthood of male and female mealybugs were similar across nitrogen fertilization levels. Females reared on plants fertilized at 0.021, 0.048, and 0.091 g N/liter produced, respectively, 152, 142, and 67% more eggs than females reared on unfertilized plants. Finite and intrinsic rates of increase and net reproductive rates of females were similar among the nitrogen fertilization levels, whereas the generation times of females from fertilized plants were significantly shorter than those from the unfertilized plants. Lipid contents of adult females and eggs, and average adult female protein content were similar across the nitrogen treatments. Average egg protein content increased with increasing host-plant fertilization rate. These results suggest that the response of the female Madeira mealybug to nitrogen fertilization is complex and may involve trade-offs and nutrient re-allocation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science