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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Geographic Origin and Taxonomic History of Delphastus Spp. (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) in Commercial Culture

Authors
item Hoelmer, Kim
item Pickett, Charles - CDFA, SACRAMENTO, CA

Submitted to: Biocontrol Science and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 13, 2003
Publication Date: August 1, 2003
Citation: Hoelmer, K.A., Pickett, C.H. 2003. GEOGRAPHIC ORIGIN AND TAXONOMIC HISTORY OF DELPHASTUS SPP. (COLEOPTERA: COCCINELLIDAE) IN COMMERCIAL CULTURE. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 13(5):529-535.

Interpretive Summary: The proper identification of mass-produced natural enemies is of constant concern to commercial insectaries and their clients. It is essential to ensure quality control and to validate biological studies and efficacy trials. The native coccinellid beetle Delphastus catalinae is a valuable predator that has been mass produced and sold worldwide under the name D. pusillus for the past decade as a whitefly-specific predator. There is confusion regarding the origin and proper nomenclature of this species. Most of the published studies of Delphastus pusillus biology and behavior on Bemisia spp. actually refer to D. catalinae. Similarly, Delphastus species in commercial insectary cultures are probably D. catalinae and not D. pusillus. We discuss the historical reasons for the clouded identity of these native coccinellid beetles.

Technical Abstract: Correct identification of a biological control agent is essential to ensure quality control and to validate biological studies and efficacy trials. During the early 1990s severe problems managing outbreaks of invasive Bemisia species in Florida and elsewhere in North America stimulated a search for new biological control agents of whitefly. Research showed that a native coccinellid beetle was an effective whitefly predator in greenhouse culture, and it has been cultured and sold commercially worldwide as a whitefly-specific predator for the past decade under the name D. pusillus. During recent years, questions have arisen concerning the origin and proper nomenclature of the species. We show that most published studies of Delphastus pusillus biology and behavior actually refer to D. catalinae and that commercial insectary cultures are probably D. catalinae and not D. pusillus. We also discuss the probable geographic origin of D. catalinae.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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