Host specificity of Tectococcus ovatus (Hemiptera: Eriococcidae), a potential biological control agent of the invasive strawberry guava, Psidium cattleianum (Myrtales: Myrtaceae), in Florida.
Strawberry guava, Psidium cattleianum Sabine, is a woody tree or shrub native to coastal southeastern Brazil. Strawberry guava was introduced into Florida in the late 1800s as an ornamental species. The plant escaped cultivation and is invading natural areas throughout the southern half of the state. In addition to negative effects on Florida's native ecosystems, strawberry guava also is a preferred host of the Caribbean fruit fly, Anastrepha suspensa Loew (Diptera: Tephritidae). In total, 57 plant species representing 21 families were included in the host range tests. First instar nymphs of Tectococcus ovatus Hempel fed on two closely related guava species, Brazilian guava (Psidium friedrichsthalianum O. Berg), and Costa Rican guava (Psidium guineense Sw.). However, none of the nymphs completed their development on these two non-target species. The results of the host specificity tests suggest that T. ovatus is a suitable candidate for classical biological control of strawberry guava in Florida.