Open-field Host Specificity Test of Gratiana boliviana (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), a Biological Control Agent of Tropical Soda Apple (Solanaceae) in the United States

D. Gandolfo, F. McKay, J. C. Medal, J. P. Cuda

Abstract


An open-field experiment was conducted to assess the suitability of the South American leaf feeding beetle Gratiana boliviana Spaeth for biological control of Solanum viarum Dunal in the USA. An open-field test with eggplant, Solanum melongena L., was conducted on the campus of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a S. viarum control plot was established 40 km from the campus. One hundred adult beetles were released in each plot at the beginning of the experiment during the vegetative stage of the plants, and forty additional beetles were released in the S. melongena plot at the flowering stage. All the plants in each plot were checked twice a week and the number of adults, immatures, and eggs recorded. Results showed almost a complete rejection of eggplant by G. boliviana. No noticeable feeding damage was ever recorded on eggplant. The experiment was ended when the eggplants started to senesce or were severely damaged by whiteflies and spider mites. The results of this open-field experiment corroborate previous quarantine/laboratory host-specificity tests indicating that a host range expansion of G. boliviana to include eggplant is highly unlikely. Gratiana boliviana was approved for field release in May 2003 in the USA. To date, no non-target effects have been observed either on eggplant or native species of Solanum.

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