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PLOS ONE  2013 

Behavioral, Ultrastructural and Chemical Studies on the Honeydew and Waxy Secretions by Nymphs and Adults of the Asian Citrus Psyllid Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Psyllidae)

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064938

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The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Psyllidae) is the primary vector of the bacterium causing citrus huanglongbing (citrus greening), the most serious disease of citrus worldwide. Psyllids and other hemipterans produce large amounts of honeydew, which has been used previously as an indicator of phloem sap composition and insect feeding or metabolism. Behavioral, ultrastructural and chemical studies on ACP, its honeydew and waxy secretions showed important differences between nymphs, males and females, and suggested some mechanisms by which the psyllids, especially nymphs and adult females, can minimize their contamination with honeydew excretions. The anal opening in ACP, near the posterior end of the abdomen, is on the ventral side in nymphs and on the dorsal side in adult males and females. Video recordings showed that adult males produce clear sticky droplets of honeydew gently deposited behind their body on the leaf surface, whereas adult females produce whitish honeydew pellets powerfully propelled away from the female body, probably to get their excretions away from eggs and newly hatched nymphs. ACP nymphs produce long ribbons or tubes of honeydew that frequently stay attached to the exuviae after molting, or drop when feeding on the lower side of citrus leaves. Furthermore, honeydew excretions of both nymphs and adult females are covered with a thin layer of whitish waxy material ultrastructurally composed of a convoluted network of long fine filaments or ribbons. This material is extruded from intricate arrays of wax pores in the circumanal ring (around the anus) that is found in nymphs and females but not in males of ACP or other psyllid species. Infrared microscopy and mass spectroscopy revealed that, in addition to various sugars, honeydew excretions of ACP nymphs and females are covered with a thin layer of wax similar in profile to ester waxes.


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