Parasitoids Associated with Mussidia spp. (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in Kenya


The pyralid Mussidia nigrivenella, a pest of cotton, maize and Phaseolus bean in West Africa, has never been reported as a crop pest in East and Southern Africa, although reportedly it exists in the wild. It is hypothesized that the difference in pest status of M. nigrivenella between western and eastern Africa was either due to differences in natural enemy compositions or that there exist several populations and/or species of Mussidia, which vary in their host plant range. Thus, a catalogue of parasitoids of Mussidia spp. was established through surveys in mid-altitude and coastal Kenya, between 2006 and 2007. Mussidia spp. eggs, larvae and pupae were collected from fruits of plants known to host Mussidia spp. and were examined for parasitoid-related mortality. The trichogrammatid Trichogrammatoidea sp. nr. lutea was obtained from eggs of Mussidia fiorii. A braconid egg-larval parasitoid, Phanerotoma sp., was reared from the larvae of unknown species of Mussidia (which we are referring to as Mussidia “madagascariensis”, Mussidia “quanzensis”) and M. fiorii, while the bethylid Goniozus sp. and the braconid Apanteles sp. were obtained from Mussidia nr. nigrivenella. Moreover, the ichneumonid larval parasitoid Syzeuctus sp. was obtained from M. fiorii, while the tachinid Leskia sp. was obtained from Mussidia “madagascariensis”. Overall, mortality caused by parasitoids was negligible; hence they were not considered key mortality factors in the population dynamics of the Mussidia spp. in Kenya.

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The authors wish to thank Gerphas Okuku for help during field work; Joseph Baya, Gérard Delvare and David Barraclough for identifying the parasitoids; Matthias Nuss for identifying the lepidopterans; and Dr. Bruno Le Rü and two anonymous reviewers for reviewing an earlier version of the manuscript. This study was supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany.

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Correspondence to Benjamin Kimwele Muli.

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Muli, B.K., Schulthess, F. & van den Berg, J. Parasitoids Associated with Mussidia spp. (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in Kenya. Phytoparasitica 37, 55–60 (2009).

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  • Host plants
  • Mussidia nigrivenella
  • Pest status
  • Pyralids