Mealybugs (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) associated with rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum L.) in Chiapas, Mexico.
Rambutan is an important cash crop in the Mexican State of Chiapas. In the last few years this crop has been expanded to other agricultural areas of Mexico, and mealybugs (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) represent a potential phytosanitary risk for this crop. The present study was performed with the objectives to identify the mealybug species associated with rambutan, and determine their altitudinal distribution in the Soconusco region of Chiapas. A total of six orchards were sampled for mealybugs, two at each altitudinal level: the low zone, i.e., 60-70 meters above sea level (masl); middle zone, 240-315 masl; and high zone, 475-590 masl. In each orchard, we randomly selected 28 trees that were sampled for fruits infested with mealybugs three times between May and August of 2015. Results showed that the abundance of immature stages and adults was higher in orchards located at the low zone. A total of 1236 adult female mealybugs were identified, namely, Ferrisia virgata (Cockerell) (57%), Dysmicoccus brevipes (Cockerell) (24.9%), Maconellicoccus hirsutus (Green) (15.7%) and Nipaecoccus nipae (Maskell) (2.4%). The latter three species have not been previously recorded in association with rambutan trees in Mexico. All species were infesting rambutan fruits in orchards located at the medium zone, being F. virgata the dominant species. The mealybug M. hirsutus was not detected in high altitude orchard, and N. nipae was not present in low altitude orchards. In contrast, F. virgata and D. brevipes were detected in all three altitudes, being more abundant in the low zone. Mealybug species and its altitudinal distribution reported here are a preliminary assessment of these insects in rambutan orchards, and it is expected to be used as a background for further studies.