Research article: life history and host range of Prochoerodes onustaria, an unsuitable classical biological control agent of Brazilian peppertree.
The life history and host range of the South American defoliator Prochoerodes onustaria (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) were examined to determine its suitability as a classical biological control agent of the invasive weed Brazilian Peppertree, Schinus terebinthifolia, in the U.S.A. Larvae were collected feeding on S. terebinthifolia in Brazil and were colonised and tested in quarantine. Life history observations indicated that 54% (n=63) of larvae reared on S. terebinthifolia leaves survived to adulthood and 65% of adults (n=34) required five instars. Development time from eclosion to adult did not differ by sex: males required 42.9±1.1 days and females required 41.1±0.9 days. No-choice host range tests were conducted on 11 species in two families (Anacardiaceae and Sapindaceae), including U.S.A. native, commercial, and ornamental species. Larvae completed development on all species, although survival differed significantly among them. Larvae fed Anacardium occidentale, Cotinus coggygria, Dodonaea viscosa, and Mangifera indica demonstrated higher survival than those on S. terebinthifolia, whereas survival was reduced among larvae fed Metopium toxiferum and Comocladia dodonaea. Consumption was significantly greater on M. toxiferum than on the other species. The results presented here suggest that P. onustaria is highly polyphagous, feeding and completing development on members of two related plant families, and is not suitable for biological control of Brazilian peppertree in the U.S.A.