Amitus bennetti Viggiani & Evans is a recently discovered parasitoid of whiteflies in the genus Bemisia, including the serious pests Bemisa tabaci (Gennadius) and Bemisia argentifolii Bellows & Perring. The reproductive biology and the host searching behavior of A. bennetti was studied in the laboratory, using B. argentifolii as a host. The developmental time for A. bennetti from egg to adult at 27°C was 21.4 ± 0.2 d (range, 18–31 d). The primary behavioral pathway when searching for hosts was searching, grooming, host encounter, host antennation, followed by probing a host. Searching occupied 44.9% of the adults’ time budget, whereas grooming represented 27.1%. There was a significantly greater preference to antennate and probe 1st and 2nd instars than older instars. Average longevity of A. bennetti adults exposed to hosts was 6.3 ± 0.9 d (range, 3–11 d). Oviposition occurred on days 0–6 of adult life, but was concentrated in days 0–3. The average number of progeny produced in the daily fertility study was 78.8 ± 8.1 (range, 47–122) female offspring per female; no males were produced in any experiment or colony. Life tables were constructed assuming a preimaginal survival of 100%, and yielded a net reproductive rate (R o) of 73.1, a cohort generation time (T c) of 21.7 d, and an intrinsic rate of increase (r m) of 0.199, the highest ever recorded for a parasitoid of Bemisia spp. This parasitoid may be a suitable candidate for use in inundative release programs targeting Bemisia spp. whiteflies.
Keywords: Amitus bennetti; Bemisia argentifolii; search behavior; biology; fertility
Journal Article. 5416 words. Illustrated.
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