Date of this Version
Three introduced parasitoids Acerophagus papayae, Anagyrus loecki, and Pseudleptomastix mexicana of the mealybug Paracoccus marginatus have been released in Miami-Dade and Broward counties (Florida) in 2003. Efficiency and establishment of these previously introduced parasitoids to control P. marginatus were measured in 2005 and 2006, at three locations in Homestead (Miami-Dade). Mealybug populations were initially established on three branches (per plant) of 10 hibiscus plants inside closed-sleeve cages. The three treatments, closed, open, and no-cage environments were applied to the three established mealybug populations on each plant. The number of mealybugs and natural enemies was monitored in all treatments. After 72 h, the number of P. marginatus in the open-sleeve cage was higher than in the no-cage treatment but both were lower than the number in the closed-sleeve cage. Efficiency of parasitoids was evaluated by their percentage parasitism. Percentage parasitism (=recovery) was also used as an indicator for parasitoid establishment. Two of the three previously released parasitoids (A. papayae and A. loecki) were recovered in this study. Acerophagus papayae had a higher percentage parasitism than A. loecki in both the open-sleeve cage (31.0% vs 2.3%) and the no-cage treatments (21.4% vs 1.6%) and caused the most mortality of P. marginatus. There was no recovery of P. mexicana in either of the treatments. Although both A. papayae and A. loecki were established in tested areas, A. papayae was more efficient in controlling P. marginatus than A. loecki. The reasons for not recovering P. mexicana in release areas is yet unknown.