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Author Topic: Aphids !..what are they good for...absolutely nuffink...say it again !!  (Read 13444 times)

Offline neilep

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"Aphids !..what are they good for ?...absolutely nuffink...say it again !!"

Sang Edwin Starr in 1969...

Here's some:




so...do Aphids have any redeeming features at all ?
....I only ever ever hear them being referred to as a pest !!

I know they make a hearty meal for a ladybird

..but even then I don't think they are the ladybirds staple diet !!

so...whajafink ?



 

Offline opus

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Did you know ants farm them for a sweet-tasting juice they get addicted to?
 

Offline neilep

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Quote
Did you know ants farm them for a sweet-tasting juice they get addicted to?

Hi Opus !!

Yes..yes i did know that !!   check this out


Ok......so for ANTS..Aphids do have redeeming features !!....hmm..is there an offshoot of this that makes ants useful to us because of their aphid farming  I wonder !! ?
 

Offline Carol-A

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I think we are on VERY thin ice if we start to ask what is the purpose of anything! :)
 

Offline Karen W.

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Neily I thought you would like this..

http://insectzoo.msstate.edu/Students/basic.benefits.html



  Basic Facts: Benefits of Insects
Life without Beneficial Insects

People's lives would be very different without the benefits provided by insects, and it is unlikely that we could survive on earth without them. Our crops and homes would be overrun by pest insects and weeds. We would not have fruits, vegetables, and plants that depend on insect pollination. There would be no honey, silk, and other useful products made by insects. Dead trees and animals as well as animal droppings would cover the ground. We would know much less about genetics and other areas of biology. And we would not be inspired or fascinated by the diversity and habits of beneficial insects

Predators and Parasites

Predators seek out and eat many prey insects during their lifetime. Ground beetles, or carabids, include about 2,000 species of predators in North America. The larva of one species, Calosoma sycophanta, has been reported to eat more than 50 gypsy moth caterpillars during a two-week period. Other beetle predators include rove beetles, checkered beetles, lightning bugs, soldier beetles, and tiger beetles. Even some crop pests, such as blister beetles, are beneficial as larvae because they eat grasshopper eggs.


Ladybird beetles feed on scale insects and aphids. While it is in the larval stage, one ladybird beetle species, Coccinella californica, can eat nearly 500 aphids. During the late 1800's in California, the groves of orange and other citrus fruits were almost completely destroyed by the cottony-cushion scale. The vedalia ladybird beetle was found to be a natural predator of this scale insect in Australia. About 500 individuals of this ladybird beetle were brought to California from Australia, and it became established to control the scale pest and save the citrus industry.


Most of the parasitic insects are wasps and flies, although there are some parasitic moths and beetles. The parasitic female lays an egg near or in the host insect. When this egg hatches, the parasitic larva feeds on the host and kills it. Ichneumon wasps often have long ovipositors for laying eggs on beetle or moth larvae that are feeding inside some part of the plant. Some chalcid wasps lay their eggs inside the eggs of another insect. The parasitic larva is so small that it obtains all its food inside just one egg of its host. Tachinid flies also parasitize larvae of beetles and moths, and some have been used to control corn borers and other pests.

Weed Control

Populations of weeds are often controlled or held in balance by insects. Sometimes insects are introduced from another country to control weed plants. A South American moth, Cactoblastis cactorum, was introduced into Australia to control a cactus that was ruining the range land of cattle. Many insects have been introduced into the United States to help control alligator weed, which clogs streams and lakes.

Decomposers and Recyclers

Insects aerate and nourish the soil by their burrowing and droppings. Many insect species recycle organic materials, which in turn promotes plant growth. Dead trees, leaves falling to the ground, and dead animals are decomposed by insects. Many different dung beetles have been introduced into the United States to decompose cow droppings that would cover the ground in pastures if beetles were not present. [Note: the videotape Eyewitness: Insect has a time-lapse segment of insects devouring a dead animal.]

Pollination

Each kind of plant has a different means of reproducing by seeds. Some are self-pollinated, and others are pollinated by the wind, birds, and even bats. Insects are the major pollinators for many plants. The honey bee and many other species of bees have special hairs for carrying loads of pollen on their body. Other major pollinators include moths and butterflies, beetles, and flies. Some flowers can be pollinated by only one kind of insect. One such flower in the tropics is pollinated by cockroaches. Yucca moths pollinate their host's flowers to ensure that seeds will be produced to serve as food for the moth larvae.


More than 200 species of cultivated crop plants in the United States are pollinated chiefly by insects. Without insect pollination, there would be no onions or pickles for the hamburger, no carrots in the salad, no watermelon or apple pie, and no vanilla or strawberry ice cream. Many other fruits and vegetables would not be present on the menu. Our gardens and houses would be bare without the many flowers and ornamental shrubs that are insect pollinated.

Useful Products

Insects have produced many products and substances used in products that have been used by humans throughout history. Humans' earliest sweetener was honey from the honey bee. Beeswax was the earliest form of wax and is still has special uses by artists and others. In recent years more than 200 million pounds of honey and three million pounds of beeswax have been produced every year in the United States.


Silk comes from the cocoons of the silkworm, Bombyx mori, in Asia. Each cocoon has a single thread that is unraveled until it is more than a half mile long. About 3,000 cocoons are required to make one pound of silk. About 70 million pounds of silk are produced every year.


Other useful products include tannic acid from insect galls, which has been used for tanning hides to make leather. Some insect galls have been used to make inks. Scale insects have been the source of red dyes, used for food coloring and cosmetics. About $9 million worth of shellac, which is made from a scale insect, is used annually in the United States.


Substances from some insects have been used in medicines for arthritis and urinary tract infections. Blow fly larvae have been used to treat battle wounds for centuries, and more recently they have been used to treat bone infections. These larvae feed on dead tissue and secrete a substance known as allantoin, which helps the tissue to heal.

Scientific Tools

Insects are valuable tools for scientific research because of their rapid reproduction rate and their ease of keeping them in laboratories. The Drosophila fruit fly and other insects have been major experimental animals in research on genetics. Grasshoppers and cockroaches have been used as test animals to study the effects of chemicals on nerves. Because the nerves of an insect are similar to those of humans, new drugs can be tested in laboratories without using humans. Insects have been the primary tools for studying evolution, ecology, growth of populations, and many other areas of biology. In recent years insects have become tools for studying pollution of the environment.


Forensic entomology is a new tool for investigating legal issues, including murders and other crimes. There is a natural succession of different insects that come to dead bodies after death. Some come within the first few hours, and others do not come until days later. By studying the insects present on a dead body, entomologists can determine how long the body has been dead and, in some cases, whether the body has been moved. More information on how insects are used as a tool to solve crimes can be obtained at the forensic entomology homepage Index of . . .Case Histories.

Food for Animals

Insects are an essential part of the food web that connects all animals and plants. Skunks, bats, and raccoons subsist largely on insect food. Many freshwater fish feed on aquatic insects, such as mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, and midge larvae. These insect-eating fish are a basic part of the diet of larger game fish. Many birds feed entirely upon insects, and some baby birds eat their weight in insects every day. Toads, frogs, and lizards feed mostly on insects. Some frogs specialize on small insects; one such frog was found in Arkansas that had more than 800 ants in its stomach.


Many people in the United States eat lobsters, shrimps, and crabs, which are close relatives of insects, but few people in the U. S. eat insects purposefully. However, people in many other countries eat insects. Insects have high nutritional value, and many are considered tasty delicacies similar to shrimp. Locusts, beetle grubs, ants, termites, and caterpillars are eaten in parts of Africa. Giant water bugs and grasshoppers are eaten in many areas of Asia. Insects also have been used for seasoning food. In Venezuela, a hot sauce is made from leaf-cutter ants. For more information on insects as food, see Bugs on the Menu.

Aesthetic Value

Collecting and photographing insects has provided enjoyment as hobbies for many people. Some people collect stamps, coffee cups, and other items that illustrate insects. Many butterflies, beetles, dragonflies, and other insects have been used as models in art and jewelry. In some countries, the actual insect or parts of the insect are used to make jewelry and other items. The red and black abdomens of some weevils are used to make beads in Africa. The bright blue wings of Morpho butterflies are used to make pictures, dining trays, and jewelry.


In recent years insect zoos and butterfly gardens have become popular attractions. More than 45 public zoos and gardens with live insects are present in the United States. Many people are making their own butterfly gardens by planting flowers and providing habitats for butterflies. The Department of Entomology at the University of Kentucky has provided information on How to make Butterfly Gardens.
 

Offline Karen W.

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There you will find tons of cool insect information!
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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They are very good at allowing us to take pressure readings from inside plants, by connecting a pressure guage to their body while they are actively feeding.

Andrew
« Last Edit: 28/11/2007 07:26:22 by Andrew K Fletcher »
 

Offline neilep

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I think we are on VERY thin ice if we start to ask what is the purpose of anything! :)

But this forum part of site would not exist if it weren't for people asking questions !! ;) :)
 

Offline neilep

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They are very good at allowing us to take pressure readings from inside plants, by connecting a pressure guage to their body while they are actively feeding.

Andrew


Thank You Andrew,

Why would we want to know the pressure inside a plants ?.....hang on !!...LOL......Connecting a pressure guage to their bodies indeed !!!!!! ;D ;D
 

Offline neilep

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KAREN......thank you for the wonderful information and link !
 

Offline Karen W.

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Your welcome they have lots of cool information!
« Last Edit: 13/12/2007 17:25:33 by Karen W. »
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Aphids Don't Suck
    Kennedy & Mittler (1953) first noted that aphids could be used as a direct pipeline to the phloem.  Phloem-feeding aphids stick their hollow, syringe-like stylet directly into phloem cells.  Surprisingly, the phloem doesn’t seal itself in response.  Aphids don't suck; rather, the phloem contents are forced into the aphid (thus the phloem is under pressure) and the excess oozes out the anus (honeydew). Thus, aphid studies demonstrate that the phloem is under pressure.  Further, the honeydew can be collected and we can identify its composition. Better yet, after anaesthetizing the aphid with CO2 the body is severed from the stylet leaving a miniature spile tapped directly into the phloem.
http://employees.csbsju.edu/ssaupe/biol327/Lecture/phloem.htm

Phloem Content (see table on overhead)
    Analysis - early studies to determine the content of the phloem involved cutting into the plant and analyzing the contents of the sap that was recovered.  The problem is that you couldn't be sure that your sample wasn't contaminated by xylem exudates or other materials.  Aphid studies described above helped to solve this problem. 

The pressure guage is mentioned here : http://www.publish.csiro.au/?act=view_file&file_id=FP05036.pdf
 

Offline Carol-A

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 ;D I didn't, of course, mean one shouldn't ask questions. I meant that looking for a purpose for something gets into the big debate on "what is the purpose of life?", which has no end! (the debate, not life). Perhaps there are a lot of greenfly sitting out on our roses saying "what is the purpose of those humans.... all they do is wash us away with soapy water and cut back the plants we make our homes on!"
 

Offline HeLa

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This suits as an interesting change of perspective. Working at a nursery myself, they are a headache I have to deal with on a regular basis (especially for my Hibiscus'. They LOVE the Hibiscus). It's nice to know they they actually have role to play. Thanks for all the interesting information! :) 
 

Offline HeLa

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....I am a bit curious. Can anyone come up with a good reason for Meely Bugs?
 

Offline RD

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Aphids are capable of virgin birth : "parthenogenesis", which helps explain why there are so many of them ...
http://www.backyardnature.net/aphid_lc.htm  
 

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