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Development of Microplitis bicoloratus on Spodoptera litura and implications for biological control

Luo, Kaijun, Trumble, John T., Pang, Yi
BioControl 2007 v.52 no.3 pp. 309-321
Microplitis, Spodoptera litura, biological control, biological control agents, body weight, cotton, eggs, endoparasitoids, females, hosts, instars, larvae, mortality, new species, oviposition, parasitism, photoperiod, population, predators, rearing, relative humidity, China
Microplitis bicoloratus Chen (Hymenoptera:Braconidae:Microgastrinae), a new species of Microplitis Förster from China, is a solitary endoparasitoid of the larvae of the cotton leafworm, Spodoptera litura (Fabricius) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). This parasitoid is the first to be successfully reared and evaluated in the laboratory as a potential agent for the biological control of S. litura in China. Oviposition, immature development, and the effects of parasitism on the development of S. litura were studied. In long-term oviposition trials, females laid eggs on S. litura larvae for up to 10 days; oviposition was heavily skewed toward the first few days, with approximately one third of the eggs laid on day 1 and over 50% laid by day 3. This rapid oviposition rate increases the potential for biological suppression of host populations because the likelihood of mortality for the parasites from exposure to detrimental environmental factors or generalist predators increases with time. Immature development of the parasitoid in its host only required 7 days: eggs hatched within 24 h, the first instar larva required 2 days, the second instar larva needed 3 days, and the third instar larvae exited the host and pupated in 1 day, at 27±1°C, 60–80% relative humidity and a 12:12-h (long day) photoperiod. The development of the parasitized hosts was disrupted. When the parasitoid larvae finished development, the body weights of host larvae were significantly reduced regardless of which host instar was parasitized. Our results suggest that M. bicoloratus has considerable potential as a biological control agent for S. litura.