Establishment of Lipolexis oregmae (Hymenoptera: Aphidiidae) in a Classical Biological Control Program Directed against the Brown Citrus Aphid (Homoptera: Aphididae) in Florida

Anand B. Persad, Marjorie A. Hoy, Ru Nguyen

Abstract


The parasitoid Lipolexis oregmae Gahan (introduced as L. scutellaris Mackauer) was imported from Guam, evaluated in quarantine, mass reared, and released into citrus groves in Florida in a classical biological control program directed against the brown citrus aphid, Toxoptera citricida Kirkaldy. Releases of 20,200, 12,100, and 1,260 adults of L. oregmae were made throughout Florida during 2000, 2001, and 2002, respectively. To determine if L. oregmae had successfully established, surveys were conducted throughout the state beginning in the summer of 2001 and continuing through the summer of 2003. Parasitism during 2001 and 2002 was evaluated by holding brown citrus aphids in the laboratory until parasitoid adults emerged. Lipolexis oregmae was found in 10 sites in 7 counties and 4 sites in 3 counties with parasitism rates ranging from 0.7 to 3.3% in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Laboratory tests indicated that high rates of mortality occurred if field-collected parasitized aphids were held in plastic bags, so a molecular assay was used that allowed immature L. oregmae to be detected within aphid hosts immediately after collection. The molecular assay was used in 2003 with the brown citrus aphids and with other aphid species collected from citrus, weeds, and vegetables near former release sites; immatures of L. oregmae were detected in black citrus aphids, cowpea aphids, spirea aphids, and melon aphids, as well as in the brown citrus aphid, in 4 of 8 counties sampled, with parasitism ranging from 2.0 to 12.9%, indicating that L. oregmae is established and widely distributed. Samples taken in Polk County during Oct 2005 indicated that L. oregmae has persisted. The ability of L. oregmae to parasitize other aphid species on citrus, and aphids on other host plants, enhances the ability of L. oregmae to persist when brown citrus aphid populations are low.

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