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New Zealand Plant Protection 60 (2007): 286-290

A method for host range testing of a biological control agent for Uraba lugens

L.A. Berndt, S. Mansfield and T.M. Withers

ABSTRACT

Uraba lugens (gum leaf skeletoniser) is a serious pest of Eucalyptus spp. in Australia. It is now well established in the greater Auckland region, and is spreading. Two parasitoid species are under consideration as potential biological control agents of U. lugens. This paper describes host range testing methods developed using one of these species (Cotesia urabae) against two non-target species, Helicoverpa armigera and Spodoptera litura. Using sequential no-choice tests to test the response of mated C. urabae females, clear preferences were observed for U. lugens over both non-target test species. Some females did attempt to attack the non-target species, but no evidence of parasitism was observed when non-target hosts were reared or dissected. This method elucidated both behavioural responses and physiological development of C. urabae, and it is proposed to be a suitable host range testing method for full evaluation of this species.

Keywords: classical biological control, sequential no-choice test, parasitoid, Braconidae, Lepidoptera.

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