Investigating the parasitoid community associated with the invasive mealybug Phenacoccus Solenopsis in southern China.
The cotton mealybug Phenacoccus solenopsis Tinsley (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), is an emerging invasive insect pest in China. Hymenopteran parasitoids are the key organisms for suppressing populations of P. solenopsis in the field, and therefore could be used as biological agents. Accurate identification of the associated parasitoids is the critical step to assess their potential role in biological control. In this study, we facilitated the identification of the parasitoid composition of P. solenopsis using an integrated approach of species delimitation, combining morphology with molecular data. Eighteen Hymenoptera parasitoid species belonging to 11 genera of four families are recognized based on morphological examination and molecular species delimitation of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase 1 (COI) gene and the 28S rDNA using the automatic barcode gap discovery (ABGD) and the Bayesian Poisson tree processes model (bPTP). Among these species, eight species are primary parasitoids with Aenasius arizonensis (Girault) (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) being the dominant taxon, while the other 10 species are probably hyperparasitoids, with a prevalence of Cheiloneurus nankingensis Li & Xu (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae). These results indicate that parasitoid wasps associated with P. solenopsis from China are diverse and the integrated taxonomic approach applied in this study could enhance the accurate identification of these parasitoids that should be assessed in future biological control programs.