Parasitoids of Zophiuma butawengi (Heller) (Hemiptera: Lophopidae), the cause of Finschhafen disorder of oil palm in Papua New Guinea

Catherine Gitau *1, Geoff Gurr 1, Murray Fletcher 1, Charles Dewhurst 2, Emilio Guerrieri 3, John Noyes 4, John Huber 5

1 EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation ((DTIRIS) NSW and Charles Sturt University)
2 PNG Oil Palm Research Association, Kimbe, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea
3 Institute for Plant Protection, the National Research Council of Italy, 80055 Portici (NA) Italy
4 The Natural History Museum, SW7 5BD London, United Kingdom
5 Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, K.W. Neatby Building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1

A study was initiated to investigate Finschhafen Disorder (FD) in which yellowing and dieback of coconut and oil palm frond leaflets occurs. The investigations confirmed the association of Zophiuma butawengi (Heller) (Hemiptera: Lophopidae) with FD. Unlike most yellows-type diseases associated with Hemiptera, results showed that FD is caused by a direct feeding effect on palms by Z. butawengi rather than transmission of a pathogen.  This finding means that a threshold-based management strategy through biological control (BC) using parasitic wasps could be realised. An exploration for parasitoids was conducted in West New Britain (WNB) and mainland Papua New Guinea (PNG). Egg parasitoids belonging to the families Mymaridae and Encyrtidae were recovered from Z. butawengi. The mymarid has been identified as Parastethynium maxwelli (Girault) and represents the first host record for this genus, whilst the encyrtid has been identified as a new species of Ooencyrtus near minor (Perkins). The biology and a redescription of P. maxwelli has been completed while the biology and description of the new species of Ooencyrtus has been submitted for publication. Both parasitoid species were recovered from WNB and mainland PNG. No mymarids were recovered from mainland PNG, hence there is potential for classical BC for mainland PNG.  

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