Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Crop Protection and Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #312046

Research Project: Sterile Insect Control of Invasive Pests, with A Focus on Moths

Location: Crop Protection and Management Research

Title: Field host range of Apanteles opuntiarum (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) in Argentina, a potential biocontrol agent of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in North America

Author
item Varone, Laura - Fuedei
item Logarzo, Guillermo - Fuedei
item Martinez, Juan - National University Of Tucuman
item Navarro, Fernando - Entomologia Corporacion
item Carpenter, James
item Hight, Stephen

Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2015
Publication Date: 6/1/2015
Citation: Varone, L., Lagarzo, G., Martinez, J.J., Navarro, F., Carpenter, J.E., Hight, S.D. 2015. Field host range of Apanteles opuntiarum (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) in Argentina, a potential biocontrol agent of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in North America. Florida Entomologist. 98(2):803-806.

Interpretive Summary: Cactoblastis cactorum was successfully used for biological control of Opuntia spp. in Australia and South Africa, where no native cacti occur. Since 1989, this South American moth has been invading the southeastern United States, threatening the unique cactus diversity and industry in the western United States and Mexico. Cactoblastis cactorum also was detected on two Mexican islands, but was eradicated during 2007-2009 by several control measures, including plant removal and sanitation to lower the population density, followed by the sterile insect technique. Currently, efforts are underway to develop sustainable control tactics, which include the evaluation of biological control agents. Field exploration in Argentina for cactus-feeding larvae, which were parasitized by the recently described braconid parasitoid Apanteles opuntiarum, revealed a host range restricted to C. cactorum and C. doddi. Field collections of cactus-feeding larvae parasitized by the congeneric parasitoid A. alexanderi included the host species C. bucyrus, Sigelgaita nr. chilensis, Tucumania sp., Tucumania tapiacola and Salambona sp. If a narrow host range for A. opuntiarum is confirmed in quarantine with North American cactus-feeding species, then this parasitoid could be released as a biological control agent for C. cactorum with little or no risk to non-target species.

Technical Abstract: Cactoblastis cactorum (Berg) (Lepidoptera, Pyralidae) was successfully used for biological control of Opuntia spp. (Cactaceae) in Australia and South Africa, where no native cacti occur. Since 1989, this South American moth has been invading the southeastern United States, threatening the unique cactus diversity and industry in the western United States and Mexico. Cactoblastis cactorum also was detected on two Mexican islands, but was eradicated during 2007-2009 by several control measures, including plant removal and sanitation to lower the population density, followed by the sterile insect technique. Currently, efforts are underway to develop sustainable control tactics, which include the evaluation of biological control agents. Field exploration in Argentina for cactophagous feeding hosts, which were parasitized by the recently described braconid parasitoid Apanteles opuntiarum, revealed a host range restricted to C. cactorum and C. doddi. Field collections of cactophagous larvae parasitized by the congeneric parasitoid A. alexanderi included the host species C. bucyrus, Sigelgaita nr. chilensis, Tucumania sp., Tucumania tapiacola and Salambona sp. If a narrow host range for A. opuntiarum is confirmed in quarantine with North American cactus-feeding species, then this parasitoid could be released as a biological control agent for C. cactorum with little or no risk to non-target species.