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Ladybugs are an important agricultural tool and help farmers by feeding on aphids, thereby controlling this serious agricultural pest. For this reason, learning which types of plants ladybugs eat, and how to keep these beneficial insects healthy, can be a great advantage for farmers.
Most animals have an appetite for five major nutrient groups: carbohydrates, fat, protein, sodium, and calcium. However, Todd Ugine, a research associate in the lab of John Losey, a professor of Entomology at Cornell University, has recently discovered a sixth appetite in aphid-eating ladybugs: sterols. Ladybugs feed almost exclusively on aphids, a smaller insect almost devoid of the essential nutrient sterols (a well-known example of which is cholesterol). Since ladybugs can not get the sterol nutrients they need from aphid consumption, they will seek out sterol-rich leaves to eat.
Ugine conducted an experiment with seven different ladybug species to examine their relationship with sterols. He designed different treatment groups: males and females who were either exclusively carnivorous (eating only aphids) or omnivorous (eating both aphids and sterol-rich leafy greens).
“Generally, all the beetles survived very well but when we looked at the total number of eggs laid and the percentage of eggs and females that were viable, that’s when we saw a huge effect,” Ugine told CALS of the study’s conclusion. He found that females mated with an omnivorous male laid more eggs and more of those eggs hatched than compared to females mated with exclusively carnivorous males. In conclusion, ladybugs that consume sterols through leafy-greens in addition to aphids have more viable offspring and ultimately greater fitness.
Future research in this field will investigate sterol taste receptors, and if lacewings and hoverflies — additional species that feed on aphids — will also search out sterol sources when deficient.
Read more about the study in CALS online news.
The post Aphid-Eating Ladybugs Supplement Their Diet with Leafy Greens appeared first on Cornell Small Farms.
(Washington, D.C., January 4, 2021) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will purchase an additional $1.5 billion worth of food for nationwide distribution through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. In total, USDA has distributed more than 132 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Washington, D.C., January 4, 2021) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced a final rule enhancing employment and training opportunities for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants.
(Washington, D.C., December 31, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced approval of a request from Maine to provide online purchasing of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households. This approval will allow Maine to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time. Maine’s SNAP participation is more than 144,000 individuals, more than 78,000 households, and totals $204 million annually in federal benefits.
(Washington, D.C., December 29, 2020) – Nutrition in America took a major step forward today with the publication of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. Jointly published by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) every five years, the guidelines provide science-based recommendations designed to foster healthy dietary patterns for Americans of all ages – from birth through older adults.
(Washington, D.C., December 23, 2020) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today issued a movement permit to Mr. S. Nicholas Claus of the North Pole, a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited. The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 7 p.m. December 24, 2020 and 7 a.m. December 25, 2020, through or over any U.S. border port.
(Washington, D.C., December 22, 2020) – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that President Trump has named Dr. Carrie Castille as the new, permanent director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Dr. Castille will start her new role on Monday, January 4, 2021.