Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS; Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae), an invasive sap-sucking hemipteran, has spread across 16 U.S. states. Infestation of CMBS negatively impacts the flowering and reduces the aesthetic quality of crapemyrtles. The widespread use of soil-applied neonicotinoid insecticides to suppress the CMBS infestation may be hazardous to pollinators and other beneficial insects. Natural enemies of CMBS are important agents for developing integrated environmentally friendly management strategies. This study evaluated the performance of larval green lacewing (Chrysoperla rufilabris) as a biocontrol agent of CMBS. Predatory behavior of the larval C. rufilabris upon CMBS was documented under a stereomicroscope using infested crapemyrtle samples collected from different locations in College Station, TX (Figure 1).
Predation potential of C. rufilabris upon CMBS eggs and foraging performance using Y-maze assay were investigated under laboratory conditions. Results confirmed that larval C. rufilabris preyed on CMBS nymphs, eggs, and adult females (Figure 2).
The evaluation of predation potential results showed that 3rd instar C. rufilabris consumed significantly more CMBS eggs (176.4 ± 6.9) than 2nd (151.5 ± 6.6) or 1st instar (11.8 ± 1.3) in 24 hours (Table 1).
Results from the Y-maze assay indicated that larval C. rufilabris could target CMBS in the dark, indicating that some cues associated with olfactory response were likely involved (Figure 3).
In summary, this study is the first report that validated C. rufilabris as a natural predator of CMBS and its potential as a biological agent to control CMBS. Future investigation of how the olfactory response of larval C. rufilabris to CMBS would benefit the development of environmentally friendly strategies to manage CMBS.
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