Submitted to: Wildland Weeds
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2002
Publication Date: 12/20/2002
Citation: Cuda, J.P., Wheeler, G.S., Habeck, D.H. 2002. BRAZILIAN PEPPERTREE SEED CHALCID: MEGASTIGMUS TRANSVAALENSIS WASP WAGES WAR ON WIDESPREAD WEED. Wildland Weeds. 6:18-20. 2002. Interpretive Summary: The expansion of the environmental weed Brazilian peppertree into Florida's natural areas is being slowed by a South African wasp. The wasp lays eggs in the bright red berries on the tree which then fail to germinate. The wasp occurs in 23 counties in Florida and causes a 31-76% decrease in the number of viable seeds. Despite the African origin of this wasp on species of Rhus, no damage to Florida's species of this family could be detected.
Technical Abstract: An introduced torymid wasp, Megastigmus transvaalensis, from South Africa was recovered in Florida from drupes of the terrestrial weed Brazilian peppertree Schinus terebinthifolius. Collections of S. terebinthifolius drupes in Florida indicated that M. transvaalensis was present at 23 counties surveyed. Damage levels to drupes ranged from 31-76%. All damaged seeds failed to germinate. This insect is known to complete development on several other species of the Anacardiaceae in South Africa, including Rhus and Schinus. However, no wasps were recovered despite rearing drupes from native members of the Anacardiaceae including Rhus copallina.