Host specificity and non-target longevity of Calophya lutea and Calophya terebinthifolii, two potential biological control agents of Brazilian peppertree in Florida, USA.
Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolia Raddi, Anacardiaceae) is an aggressive invasive species that occurs in peninsular Florida, USA. Current management techniques are expensive, require repeated application, and cause non-target damage in ecologically sensitive habitats. Calophya lutea Burckhardt and Calophya terebinthifolii Burckhardt & Basset (Hemiptera: Calophyidae) were found damaging Brazilian peppertree in Brazil. To determine if C. lutea and C. terebinthifolii are suitable biological control agents of Brazilian peppertree, host specificity testing was conducted in a quarantine laboratory. In total, 97 plant species were tested, and oviposition and gall initiation were evaluated under no-choice conditions. Calophya lutea and C. terebinthifolii oviposited on nine and five of the 97 plant species tested, respectively. The majority of the eggs were laid on Brazilian peppertree and complete immature development with adult emergence occurred only on Brazilian peppertree. Adult longevity and behavior were determined in a separated experiment on all non-target species on which Calophya oviposited during the host specificity experiment. Adult longevity was four to five times longer on Brazilian peppertree when compared to non-target species. Based on our results, we conclude that both C. lutea and C. terebinthifolii are host-specific and form galls and complete development only on Brazilian peppertree. Therefore, these agents are considered safe to release in Florida and should be incorporated into the ongoing biological control program.