The Bethylidae (Hymenoptera): a tool for biological control programmes in food industries


Abstract: The importance of eco-friendly solutions to control pests is due to the pressure deriving from consumers and politics. Scientists are presenting solutions to match both the legal requirements and the need of industries producing organic food. Although Bethylidae have been less studied if compared to parasitoids belonging to other families, they represent a suitable tool for biological control. They actively search for hosts (pests) when released on the surface of infested stored products, quickly penetrate into cracks and crevices and typically paralyze more hosts than they effectively oviposit on, resulting in higher pest suppression. The Bethylidae as candidates for biological control can attack a large number of stored products pests and nowadays the most promising species are: Cephalonomia gallicola (Ashmead), Cephalonomia tarsalis (Ashmead), Cephalonomia waterstoni Gahan, Holepyris hawaiiensis (Ashmead), H. sylvanidis (Brèthes), Laelius pedatus (Say) and Plastanoxus westwoodi (Kieffer). Among them, H. sylvanidis showed high value at the least in terms of longevity. Thus this parasitoid has been indicated as a good candidate for an inoculative release against Tribolium spp. Also C. waterstoni showed significant responses when tested in a four-chamber olfactomer, with a bouquet of odours deriving from the grain dust produced by the feeding activity of its host Cryptolestes ferrugineus (Stephens) supporting its potential usefulness in an IPM program.

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