Progress 07/01/02 to 06/30/07
OUTPUTS: Braconid wasp species were sampled in Wyoming forests to provide a survey of these beneficial insect species. Research emphasis was placed on the genus Aleiodes, which parasitize a wide variety of leaf-feeding forest caterpillars. Sampling methods included Malaise traps, sweep nets, aspirator, yellow pan traps, and rearing from infected host caterpillars. Specific outputs include voucher specimen collections deposted in the University of Wyoming Insect Museum, as well as distribution records, flight period data, and host records for revisionary studies of the wasp genus Aleiodes. PARTICIPANTS: Not relevant to this project. TARGET AUDIENCES: The target audience for this research is forestry scientists, ecologists, students, and amateur insect collectors, or anyone interested in the ecology of how caterpillars feed on forest trees and how these caterpillar populations are suppressed naturally by wasps. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Not relevant to this project.
A study of the Aleiodes coxalis species-group resulted in the discovery and description of nine new North American species: A. aquilonius, A. brevis, A. cultrarius, A. dichromatus, A. floridensis, A. quadratus, A. shenefelti, A. whartoni, and A. wyomingensis. An identification key for for North American species of the coxalis species-group was developed, along with species descriptions, illustrations, distribution data, and biological information for the 13 known species in that group. A field guide for eastern U.S. Aleiodes species was developed for species found in forests. The guide includes diagnostic features of the adult wasps, descriptions of the host caterpillars, diagnostic features of dead mummified host caterpillar remains, wasp distributions, biology, comparisons with similar species, references, and synoptic photographs for all 50 species and their known host caterpillars.
- Shaw, S.R. Aleiodes wasps of eastern forests: a guide to parasitoids and associated dead caterpillars. Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team (FHTET), FHTET-2006-08, 126, November 2006.
- Shaw, S.R., P.M. Marsh and J.C. Fortier. Revision of North American Aleiodes (part 8): the coxalis (Spinola) species-group (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Rogadinae). Zootaxa 1314; 1-30, 2006.
Progress 01/01/05 to 12/31/05
This research involves studies of beneficial parasitic wasps (Braconidae) in forest ecosystems. Field research was conducted in forests of Wyoming, West Virginia, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. Methods include Malaise trapping, yellow pan traps, light traps, and rearing wasps from infected caterpillars. Caterpillars of the moth family Limacodidae, commonly known as "slug caterpillars," feed on a variety of tropical crops and tropical forest shrubs and trees. Slug caterpillars pose a serious threat to tropical agriculture and tropical forestry, in the southern United States, Central America, South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. Slug caterpillars also possess stinging spines and venom, therefore are of human health concern, as well. Meteorus wasps are beneficial insects that attack and kill caterpillars, therefore can be useful for natural control and applied biological control in agricultural plots and forest reserves. A new insect species, Meteorus oviedoi, was
discovered in Costa Rica. The new species is named, described and illustrated. Details of the biology of this new wasp species are given, including rates of parasitism, and observations on emergence and cocoon-forming behaviors. This is the first record of any Meteorus species attacking slug caterpillars in Costa Rica.
This research includes the first photos of larval emergence and cocoon-spinning behaviors in Meteorus. The new species may have a beneficial economic impact as a natural control agent of slug caterpillars in forest reserves in Costa Rica. The species might have future impact as a potential biological control agent for slug caterpillars in agricultural situations in the tropics.
- Shaw, S.R. and Kishida, K. 2005. A new species of gregarious Meteorus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) reared from caterpillars of Venadicodia caneti (Lepidoptera: Limacodidae) in Costa Rica. Zootaxa 1028: 48-60.