Honeydew is produced by a type of scale insect. Researcher Rosa Henderson, of Landcare Research NZ Ltd, talks about this resource and its role as a food source for birds, fungi and insects.
Honeydew is a huge resource in the beech forest – we know well that birds feed on it. The honeydew is part of a food chain that involves a lot of other insects. It is producing all that sooty mould, which is another huge resource for different insects, and as it falls on the forest floor, it helps break down the dead leaves and litter and things like that. The wasps are now such a problem in South Island beech forests. They come along and they want to get all the honeydew themselves, and they have discovered that, if they chew off these anal tubes, the scale will produce the honeydew quicker. So they go around chewing off the tubes. Birds have lost some of their ability to get that honeydew. The wasps are a real problem in the South Island beech forests.
Kim Nicolas Cahill
Clive Shirley, The Hidden Forest
Richard Toft, Landcare Research New Zealand Limited