Life cycle and host specificity of the parasitoid conura annulifera (Hymenoptera: Chalcididae), a Potential biological control agent of philornis downsi (Diptera: Muscidae) in the Galápagos Islands

Mariana Bulgarella, Martín A. Quiroga, Rebecca A. Boulton, Ismael E. Ramírez, Roger D. Moon, Charlotte E. Causton, George E Heimpel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

The neotropical parasitoid Conura annulifera (Walker) (Hymenoptera: Chalcididae) is known to parasitize birdparasitic flies in the genus Philornis (Diptera: Muscidae) including P. downsi (Dodge and Aitken), a species that has invaded the Galapagos islands and is negatively impacting populations of Darwin's finches. We report here some aspects of the life history, field ecology, and host specificity of C. annulifera. We collected puparia of four Philornis species in 13 bird nests during 2015 and 2016 in western mainland Ecuador and found that C. annulifera and three other parasitoid species emerged from those puparia. This is the first record of C. annulifera in Ecuador. Rearing records and dissections of parasitized puparia revealed that C. annulifera is a solitary pupal ectoparasitoid, placing its eggs in the gap between host pupa and puparium. Laboratory studies of host specificity involving P. downsi and pupae from five other dipteran, three lepidopteran, and one hymenopteran species found that C. annulifera only produced progeny when presented with P. downsi pupae. Pupae of P. downsi that had been exposed to C. annulifera also failed to emerge more often than expected by chance compared with no-parasitoid controls, suggesting that the parasitoids can cause developmental mortality through means other than successful parasitism. These studies constitute the first steps in evaluating C. annulifera as a potential biological control agent of P. downsi in the Galapagos Islands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-328
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of the Entomological Society of America
Volume110
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2017

Keywords

  • Biological control
  • Conura annulifera
  • Galapagos islands
  • Parasitoid
  • Philornis downsi

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