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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Cuda, James
item Deloach Jr, Culver

Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/2/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The native leaf-footed bug Mozena obtusa damages the flower and leaf buds of honey mesquite, a native tree that is a serious weed in southwestern rangelands. The insect's life cycle, reproduction and rate of parasitism were measured in the field near Temple, TX. Its feeding partially suppresses the reproductive potential of mesquite in the U.S. even though the eggs and nymphs are heavily parasitized. In other countries where honey mesquite has been introduced and has become a serious weed, such as Australia and South Africa, the insect's native parasites are not be present. In these countries, the insect could attain higher populations and may be useful as a biological control agent on mesquite.

Technical Abstract: The leaf-footed bug Mozena obtusa Uhler is an important natural enemy of honey mesquite, Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa, in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The nymphs and adults severely damage mesquite by feeding on new vegetative and reproductive growth. Temporal distribution of all life stages indicates that M. obtusa has five nymphal instars and is bivoltine in central Texas. In the laboratory, the generation time on honey mesquite was ca. 45 d: 12.7 d for the egg stage and 32.7 for the nymphal. Adult longevity was ca 167 d for females and 144 d for males. Females produced an average 510 eggs in 39 masses with 13 eggs per mass during their lives. Mozena obtusa also developed normally on the Argentine vinal P. ruscifolia although the nymphal stage was longer (49.5 d). In the field, a complex of hymenopterous egg parasitoids ((Anastatus semiflavidus (Eupelmidae), Ooencyrtus johnsoni (Encyrtidae), and Gryon atrum (Scelionidae)) and tachinid fly Trichopoda pennipes F. appeared to be the principal biotic mortality factors regulating populations of M. obtusa. Parasitism of all life stages of M. obtusa in the field was 40%. Because it has the potential to significantly reduce seed production of mesquite, this insect may be a good candidate for introduction into other countries for classical biological control of mesquite (Prosopis spp.), providing host range tests demonstrate it does not damage beneficial or non-target plant species.

Last Modified: 06/26/2017
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