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Honeydew and nectar sugars differentially affect flight performance in female black flies

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In the wild, black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) feed on both floral nectar and homopteran honeydew. We tested the hypothesis that sugar meal composition affects flight performance using tethered black flies that had been flown to exhaustion. Individuals were then fed distilled water (dH2O), 10% (m/v) artificial nectar (AN), or 20% (m/v) artificial honeydew (AH) sugars, and the distance, speed, and duration of the resultant flights were recorded using a computerized flight mill. Following a dH2O meal, flies were unable to regain flight. There were three different artificial honeydew diets (AHlow, AHmed, AHhigh), each differing in the proportion and composition of simple sugars (glucose, fructose, sucrose) and complex sugars (melezitose, stachyose). Flies flew the farthest and longest on AH meals that contained higher levels of complex sugars (AHmed, AHhigh) compared with flies fed on AN (simple sugars only) or AHlow. On this flight mill, the mean flight speed was 10.6 ± 3.5 m/min and was not affected by the type of sugar meal ingested.

En nature, les mouches noires (Diptera : Simuliidae) se nourrissent à la fois du nectar des fleurs et du miellat des homoptères. Nous testons l’hypothèse selon laquelle la composition du repas de sucre affecte la performance de vol en utilisant des mouches noires fixées en suspension qui volent jusqu’à épuisement. Les individus sont alors nourris d’eau distillée (dH2O), de nectar artificiel (AN) à 10 % (m/v) ou de miellat artificiel (AH) à 20 % (m/v) de sucres; la distance, la vitesse et la durée du vol subséquent sont alors déterminées dans un tunnel de vol informatisé. Après un repas de dH2O, les mouches n’arrivent pas à reprendre leur vol. Les trois différentes formulations de miellat artificiel (AHlow, AHmed et AHhigh) diffèrent par leurs proportions et compositions en sucres simples (glucose, fructose, sucrose) et complexes (mélézitose, stachyose). Les mouches volent le plus loin et le plus longtemps avec des régimes de AH contenant de fortes concentrations de sucres complexes (AHmed et AHhigh) par comparaison avec des mouches nourries de régimes AN (sucres simples seuls) ou AHlow. Dans le tunnel de vol, la vitesse moyenne de vol est de 10,6 ± 3,5 m/min et n’est pas affectée par le type de repas de sucre ingéré.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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