Evidence for a cryptic parasitoid species reveals its suitability as a biological control agent.
Uncertainty about the taxonomic status and the specificity of a species commonly prevent its consideration as a candidate for biological control of pest organisms. Here we use a combination of molecular analysis and crossing experiments to gather evidence that the parasitoid wasp Ganaspis brasiliensis, a candidate for biological control of the invasive spotted wing drosophila Drosophila suzukii, is a complex of at least two cryptic species. Complementary experiments demonstrate that individuals from one genetic group readily parasitize several drosophila species regardless of their food source while individuals from the other one are almost exclusively specific to larvae feeding in ripening fruits. Because only D. suzukii attacks ripening fruits in its area of invasion, parasitoids from this second group appear to be well suited as a biological control agent. Our study demonstrates the need for a combination of biosystematics with biological and ecological investigations for the development of safe and efficient biological control programs.