Reproductive strategies and food sources used by Acerophagus n. sp near coccois, a new successful parasitoid of the invasive mealybug Phenacoccus peruvianus
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Phenacoccus peruvianus Granara de Willink (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) is a new invasive mealybug that causes important damages in ornamental plants in urban landscapes and nurseries in Southern Europe. Recently, a new species of genus Acerophagus Smith (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) has been recorded as the main parasitoid of P. peruvianus in Spain, displacing the native parasitoid Leptomastix epona Walker (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae). In this work, we have determined some traits of the reproductive and feeding strategies of Acerophagus sp.: fecundity, immature developmental time, host instar suitability, and preference when parasitizing P. peruvianus, and the effect of natural occurring sugar sources on adult longevity. Acerophagus sp. egg load reached its maximum when it was 5 days old. Second and third nymphal instars and adults were suitable for parasitism and immature development (efficient encapsulation was low). Immature development lasted between 20 and 22 days. Acerophagus sp. developed as a solitary parasitoid in the second instar and as a gregarious parasitoid in older instars (2-4 parasitoids per host). All the emerged offspring were females. Acerophagus sp. always preferred older instars when different host instars were available. Finally, adults lived more than 20 days when fed on honey, but they lived fewer than 3 days when fed on naturally occurring sugar sources (host honeydew and host plant flowers, Bougainvillea glabra). The consequences of these characteristics on biological control and parasitoid rearing are discussed.