• Chemical cues;
  • host acceptance;
  • Rhopalosiphum padi;
  • seasonal morphs


Host acceptance by gynoparae and winged virginoparae of the bird cherry-oat aphid Rhopalosiphum padi (L.) is investigated utilizing leaves and aqueous extracts of the primary and secondary hosts, as well as nonhost plants. Gynoparae are specialized to reproduce on bird cherry Prunus padus L., whereas virginoparae reproduce and feed on various grasses. Host acceptance is assessed using levels of reproduction and survival for adults, as well as survival for nymphs. Little is known of host acceptance by nymphs. The data show that gynoparae and winged virginoparae produce nymphs almost exclusively on their host plants, bird cherry and barley leaves, respectively, over 72 h. When tested with aqueous plant extracts, however, gynoparae produce nymphs almost exclusively on bird cherry extract and progeny numbers are found to be similar to those on plant leaves. Few nymphs are produced on artificial diet. By contrast, winged virginoparae produce nymphs on aqueous extracts of barley, bird cherry and bean, as well as on artificial diet. The numbers of nymphs deposited by gynoparae are similar on aqueous extracts of bird cherry leaves collected at different times during the growing season. When extracts from leaves of various Prunus species are tested, only leaves of P. padus and Prunus virginiana stimulate parturition. Oviparae, the sexual female nymphs of gynoparae, survive well for 96 h on both bird cherry and barley leaves but not on bean seedlings, whereas nymphs of winged virginoparae survive well only on barley leaves. They do not survive for 96 h on any plant-leaf extracts, although they do survive on artificial diet.