Host specificity of Tectococcus ovatus (Hemiptera: Eriococcidae), a potential biological control agent of the invasive strawberry guava, Psidium cattleianum (Myrtales: Myrtaceae), in Florida
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Strawberry guava, Psidium cattleianum Sabine, is a woody tree or shrub native to coastal southeastern Brazil. Strawberry guava was introduced into Florida in the late 1800s as an ornamental species. The plant escaped cultivation and is invading natural areas throughout the southern half of the state. In addition to negative effects on Florida’s native ecosystems, strawberry guava also is a preferred host of the Caribbean fruit fly, Anastrepha suspensa Loew (Diptera: Tephritidae).
In total, 57 plant species representing 21 families were included in the host range tests. First instar nymphs of Tectococcus ovatus Hempel fed on two closely related guava species, Brazilian guava (Psidium friedrichsthalianum O. Berg), and Costa Rican guava (Psidium guineense Sw.). However, none of the nymphs completed their development on these two non-target species. The results of the host specificity tests suggest that T. ovatus is a suitable candidate for classical biological control of strawberry guava in Florida.
KeywordsAnastrepha suspensa biological control host specificity risk assessment
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The authors would like to thank the botanists Mark A. Garland and Richard Weaver for their professional assistance with nomenclature, identification, and collection of many specimens used throughout this project. Thanks are also due to Judy Gillmore for her assistance in procuring and maintaining test plants. This research was funded by the USDA CSREES Tropical/Subtropical Agriculture Research program (T-STAR-Caribbean) grant No. 01062227.
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