Systematics and biology of Cremastobombycia chromolaenae, new species (Gracillariidae), a natural enemy of Chromolaena odorata (L.) King and H. Robinson (Asteraceae).
A new species, Cremastobombycia chromolaenae, is described from Florida and Texas, USA. The larva is a leaf miner on Chromolaena odorata (L.) King and H. Robinson, a 2-3 m tall perennial shrub of the family Asteraceae, whose native range extends from southern Florida south to northern Argentina. The plant is also known to occur in Africa, Asia, and Australia where it is considered exotic and in some countries has become a major weed. The larvae of C. chromolaenae are hypometamorphic and possess two distinct larval body forms and feeding behaviors - an early stage sap-feeding form with a flattened body and prognathous mouthparts and a later stage tissue-feeding form with a more cylindrical body and possessing hvpognathous mouthparts. Based on head capsule counts and measurements, the larvae undergo five instars, with the first three instars being of the sap-feeding form and the last two tissue-feeding instars. The larval mine begins as a short, serpentine track which enlarges to a rounded, whitish, and eventually tentiform blotch. Cremastobombycia chromolaenae may have value as a biocontrol agent in those areas where the host plant has become a major problem.