Evaluating beautyberry and fig species as potential hosts of invasive crapemyrtle bark scale in the United States.
Crapemyrtle bark scale [CMBS (Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae)], a newly emerged pest in the United States, has spread to 16 U.S. states and unexpectedly spread on a native species american beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) in Texas and Louisiana in 2016 since it was initially reported on crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia sp.) in Texas in 2004. The infestation of CMBS negatively impacted the flowering of crapemyrtles. We observed the infestation on the two most commercially available edible fig (Ficus carica) cultivars Beer's Black and Chicago Hardy in a preliminary trial in 2018. To help estimate CMBS potential in aggravating risks to the ecosystem stability and the green industry, we conducted a host range and suitability test using 'Bok Tower' american beautyberry as a positive control with other eight beautyberry (Callicarpa) species [mexican beautyberry (C. acuminata), 'Profusion' bodinieri beautyberry (C. bodinieri), 'Issai' purple beautyberry (C. dichotoma), japanese beautyberry (C. japonica var. luxurians), 'Alba' white-fruited asian beautyberry (C. longissima), taiwan beautyberry (C. pilosissima), luanta beautyberry (C. randaiensis), and willow-leaf beautyberry (C. salicifolia)] and three fig (Ficus) species [creeping fig (F. pumila), roxburgh fig (F. auriculata), and waipahu fig (F. tikoua)] over 25 weeks. All the tested beautyberry species and waipahu fig sustainably supported the development and reproduction of nymphal CMBS and were confirmed as CMBS hosts. Furthermore, comparing with the control, mexican beautyberry, 'Profusion' bodinieri beautyberry, taiwan beautyberry, and willow-leaf beautyberry were significantly less suitable, while 'Issai' purple beautyberry, japanese beautyberry, 'Alba' white-fruited asian beautyberry, and luanta beautyberry were as suitable as 'Bok Tower' american beautyberry. Thus, when using beautyberries in landscapes, their different potential to host CMBS should be considered to minimize spreading CMBS through the native ecosystems.