Short Review

Erroneous host identification frustrates systematics and delays implementation of biological control


Abstract


Misidentifications of pests and their natural enemies and misinterpretations of pest-natural enemy associations have led to the failure of a number of biological control projects. In addition to misidentification, more complicated kinds of errors, such as mistakes in establishing host records of parasitoids, have resulted in inaccurate host-parasitoid lists of even well-known pest species. Here we discuss a particular problem of misinterpretation caused by complicated host-natural enemy habitats. Six examples are presented illustrating that mistakes in collection of host material can easily result in attribution of natural enemies to a wrong host species. To prevent such mistakes, it is advised that (1) extreme care should be taken when collecting host material in the field, (2) collected material should be partly dissected in order to check for potential contamination with non-host material, (3) supposedly new parasitoid-host associations inferred from specimens that emerged in the laboratory should be confirmed by field observations, (4) assignment of parasitoids to new hosts should only be done after consulting taxonomic specialists for the host and parasitoid.

Keywords

False host records; parasitoid-host associations; gypsy moth; San Jose scale; oak processionary moth; winter moth; scarabid dung beetles

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