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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT & EVALUATION OF BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AGENTS FOR INVASIVE SPECIES THREATENING THE EVERGLADES & OTHER NATURAL AND MANANGED SYSTEMS

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Title: An Introduced Insect Biological Control Agent Preys on an Introduced Weed Biological Control Agent.

Authors
item Nimmo, Kayla - USDA/ARS
item TIPPING, PHILIP

Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 29, 2008
Publication Date: March 1, 2009
Citation: Nimmo, K.R., Tipping, P.W. 2009. An Introduced Insect Biological Control Agent Preys on an Introduced Weed Biological Control Agent.. Florida Entomologist 92: 179-180.

Interpretive Summary: Boreioglycaspis melaleucae Moore (Homoptera: Psyllidae) was released into Florida in 2002 as part of a classical biological control program targeting the ecological weed Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S. T. Blake (‘melaleuca’). In 2007, we observed large populations of Harmonia axyridis adults and larvae on melaleuca infested with B. melaleucae in our research plots at the USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory (IPRL) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This ladybird beetle was intentionally introduced into the United States to control a variety of crop pests. Both larvae and adults of H. axyridis fed readily on B. melaleucae in laboratory studies. However, H. axyridis larval development time was greater than twice as long as those reported in other studies that used different prey indicating that the psyllid may be a lower quality prey item for H. axyridis. More intensive field studies are needed to determine if this ladybird beetle is interfering with the beneficial activities of B. melaleucae.

Technical Abstract: Biotic interference, especially by generalist predators, has been implicated in preventing establishment or limiting the impact of introduced weed biological control agents. Boreioglycaspis melaleucae Moore (Homoptera: Psyllidae) was released into Florida in 2002 as part of a classical biological control program targeting the ecological weed Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S. T. Blake (‘melaleuca’) and is now established and contributing to the suppression of melaleuca. The multicolored Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis (Pallus) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) was introduced numerous times into the U.S. starting in 1916 as a biological control agent of Homoptera. It appeared in Florida in the early 1990’s where it feeds on soft scales, mealybugs, psyllids, whitefly larvae, and the eggs of Coleoptera and Lepidoptera. In 2007, we observed large populations of Harmonia axyridis adults and larvae on melaleuca infested with B. melaleucae in our research plots at the USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory (IPRL) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Although other predacious coccinellids were present including Brachiacantha decora Casey, Coleophora inaequalis (F.), and Olla v-nigrum (Mulsant), H. axyridis is considered a dominant species and has outcompeted many coccinelid species. Larvae and adults readily accepted the psyllid as prey in laboratory studies with larvae consuming an average total of 309.9 nymphs while adults consumed an average of 31.3 nymphs per day. However, the mean (+ SE) larval development time was 23.0 + 0.6 d which may indicate that the psyllid is not an optimal food source when compared to other prey. For example, H. axyridis completed larval development in 11.2 d when fed fresh eggs of Sitotroga cerealella, 10.5 d when fed Myzus persicae, and 9.6 d when fed Aphis pisum. Field level studies are needed to evaluate any biotic interference by H. axyridis with the biological control activities of B. melaleucae.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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