, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 445-461

Gratiana boliviana, a potential biocontrol agent of Solanum viarum: Quarantine host-specificity testing in Florida and field surveys in South America

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Abstract

Host-specificity tests andfield surveys were conducted to determine thesuitability of the tortoise beetleGratiana boliviana Spaeth (Coleoptera:Chrysomelidae) from Argentina for classicalbiological control of Solanum viarumDunal (Solanaceae) in the USA. Thehost-specificity tests were conducted at theFlorida Department of Agriculture and ConsumerServices-Division of Plant Industry quarantinefacility in Gainesville, Florida (USA). Multiple-choice host-specificity tests wereconducted in small cages using 123 plantspecies in 35 families. Adults fedsignificantly (>41% of the leaf area offeredwas damaged) on the target weed(S. viarum), and fed lightly (<20%) onSolanum torvum Sw. (noxious weed native towest-Africa). Adults did some exploratoryfeeding (<5%) on eggplant, Solanummelongena L. (economic crop), Solanumelaeagnifolium Cav. (major agricultural weedin the western US), and on Solanumtampicense Dunal (weed of Central Americanorigin). No feeding was observed on any of theother 118 plant species that were testedincluding another 21 Solanum species.G. boliviana adults laid an average of 68eggs per female on S. viarum, 5 eggs perfemale on S. torvum, and an average of0.2 eggs on eggplant. No-choicehost-specificity tests were also conducted inwhich G. boliviana adults and neonatelarvae were exposed to 19 and 22 plant speciesrespectively. Tests with the neonatesindicated this insect was able to complete itsdevelopment only on S. viarum (67%reached the pupae stage). The no-choice testswith adults indicated that this insect fed,laid eggs, and completed development only onS. viarum. The unsprayed eggplant fieldsthat were surveyed in its natural range inArgentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay fromJune 1997 to March 2000 indicated thatG. boliviana is not a pest of eggplants in SouthAmerica. Therefore, a petition for fieldrelease of G. boliviana for classicalbiological control of S. viarum in theUSA was submitted in April 2000.