Submitted to: Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/15/2003
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: The adult dustywing, a small relative of lacewings, is a native predator of economically-damaging sweetpotato whiteflies that feed on and damage many ornamentals and crops in the southwestern U.S. Dustywings are of interest as potentially valuable predators of whiteflies, but many aspects of their biology are relatively unknown. Like their prey, dustywings produce and cover their bodies with waxes of unknown function, giving their bodies a 'dusty' appearance. The composition of dustywing wax was studied using electron microscopy and chemical analyses, and compared with waxes produced by other insects. Dustywing wax is chemically very different from waxes produced by their whitefly prey. The purpose of the dustywing wax production is still unknown, but this research contributes to existing knowledge about insect waxes and their possible function in insect biology and ecology
Technical Abstract: The adult dustywing, Semidalis flinti Meinander (Neuroptera: Coniopterygidae), a predator of the sweetpotato whitefly Bemisia tabaci, begins producing circular-shaped waxy particles after eclosion. The waxy material, whose function is unknown, is extruded from individual pores found in clusters on the abdomen. Pores also are present in two rows of three pores on the frontalis and two pores on the first segment of each antennae. The pores have a rosette-like appearance and each pore extrudes dual waxy ribbons. As each ribbon extends a short distance out of the pore it begins to curl back on itself until the end makes contact with the ribbon. The curled end then breaks free from the extruding ribbon to form the circular waxy particles with fluted edges approximately 2.75 µm diameter. The adults use the particles to cover all parts of their body except for their eyes and appear to lightly coat their antennae. The lipid portion of the particles consists largely of free fatty acids, almost exclusively the 24-carbon fatty acid, tetracosanoic acid. Minor lipid classes are hydrocarbons, fatty alcohols and unidentified material. Wax composition differs significantly from that of whiteflies.