Seasonal abundance and parasitism of Mesoclanis seed flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) in South Africa, and implications for the biological control of Chrysanthemoides monilifera (Asteraceae) in Australia.
The seasonal abundance and rates of parasitism of three species of Mesoclanis seed flies was studied in South Africa in 1992-94. The three species occur on Chrysanthemoides monilifera [C. moniliferum], and were recorded during most months of the year, whenever C. moniliferum was flowering. At three sites in KwaZulu-Natal, numbers of eggs per capitulum of Mesoclanis polana were highest on C. moniliferum rotundata between June and November (winter/spring), towards the end of the main flowering flush. Parasitism of M. polana was between 50% and 90% for most of the year. Two other species of Mesoclanis (M. magnipalpis and M. dubia) occurred together on C. m. rotundata in the Eastern Cape (St Francis Bay), where parasitism during the year was between 55% and 95%. Peak numbers of eggs per capitulum (M. magnipalpis and M. dubia combined) occurred in May/June (winter), in the latter part of the main flowering flush. Mesoclanis magnipalpis was the only species recorded on C. m. pisifera in De Hoop Nature Reserve (Western Cape), where there was only one peak of oviposition (May/June), coinciding with the short and discrete flowering period of this subspecies. Parasitism was between 50% and 65%. At least nine species of parasitoid were reared from immature Mesoclanis stages. Eurytoma sp. (Eurytomidae) was a dominant parasitoid at all sites. Results are discussed in relation to the possible effectiveness of species of Mesoclanis seed flies as biological control agents of C. moniliferum in Australia.