Native range density, host utilisation and life history of Calophya latiforceps (Hemiptera: Calophyidae): an herbivore of Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolia).
Native range and life history studies of an agent provide critical information during the early stages of a weed biological control programme. Brazilian peppertree is considered to be one of the worst invasive trees of Florida uplands because of negative environmental impacts and lack of effective long-term control methods. A potential biological control agent of Brazilian peppertree, Calophya latiforceps Burckhardt (Hemiptera: Calophyidae), was recently discovered in the state of Bahia, Brazil. Leaf feeding by the nymphs of C. latiforceps stimulates the tree to form pit galls. The objectives of this study were to quantify gall densities in Bahia and to study the life history adaptations of C. latiforceps under greenhouse conditions. Densities of galls and their mortality sources were recorded in August 2012 and March 2013 from trees located along linear transects. Gall density per leaf ranged from 1.6 to 37.5 and 0.3 to 12.8, in August and March, respectively. Nymphal mortality due to parasitism and entomopathogens ranged from 1.2 to 13.8%. Greenhouse observations of host colonisation and evaluations of immature survival and adult performance were conducted using plants from Bahia. A critical step for host colonisation was gall initiation in response to nymphal feeding. Herbivory by C. latiforceps resulted in stunted growth, leaf deformation, yellowing and shedding of leaves. Immature survival and development time were influenced by tree, and ranged from 11 to 75% (average 40%), and 35 to 53 days (average 38.6 days), respectively. Adults lived in average for 9.3±0.6 days; and females laid 85.8±16.4 eggs. C. latiforceps appears to have characteristics of a promising candidate for biological control of Brazilian peppertree.