Login | Request Account (DAF staff only)

Confirming the identity of the Hypogeococcus species (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) associated with Harrisia martinii (Labour.) Britton (Cactaceae) in Australia: implications for biological control

Share this record

Add to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to XAdd to WechatAdd to Microsoft_teamsAdd to WhatsappAdd to Any

Export this record

View Altmetrics

Ezeh, A. E., Hereward, J. P., Day, M. D., Taylor, T. and Furlong, M. J. (2023) Confirming the identity of the Hypogeococcus species (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) associated with Harrisia martinii (Labour.) Britton (Cactaceae) in Australia: implications for biological control. Austral Entomology, 62 (2). pp. 235-245. ISSN 2052-174X


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/aen.12641

Publisher URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/aen.12641


Determining the identity of potential control agents is critical to successful biological control and can contribute to our understanding of the failures of previous introductions, especially in cases where host-associated cryptic species may be present. In 1975, a mealybug was introduced into Australia from Argentina for the classical biological control of the invasive cactus Harrisia martinii (Cactaceae). This cactus also originates from Argentina and is an environmental and agricultural weed in parts of Australia. Since its release, the imported mealybug species has been incorrectly referred to as Hypogeococcus festerianus (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) in the applied literature, and its performance as a biological control agent has been considered poor in some locations. In this study, the identities of mealybug specimens collected from 10 locations in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia, were assessed. The genetic, morphological and reproductive characteristics of these specimens were compared with those of two congeneric mealybug species, Hypogeococcus pungens sensu stricto (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) and Hypogeococcus festerianus. Specimens from the different Australian localities examined were all very similar to each other morphologically and genetically, based on comparisons of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data. The morphological features of all the specimens were typical of Hypogeococcus pungens sensu stricto. H. pungens is now considered to constitute a species complex, and the specimens from Australia are genetically similar to the Cactaceae clade of this species complex from Argentina. In common with H. pungens s. s., the insects collected in Australia can also reproduce parthenogenetically. These findings help confirm that all populations of the mealybug in Australia are not H. festerianus, but part of the H. pungens cryptic species complex. There is no mismatch between this agent and the host plant in Australia, as H. martinii is one of the host plants of the most closely related cryptic species of H. pungens in the native range in Argentina. Thus, despite the original confusion around its identity, the variable performance of the introduced mealybug as a biological control agent of H. martini in Australia is likely due to other factors, and these require further investigation.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Subjects:Science > Entomology
Science > Invasive Species > Plants > Biological control
Science > Zoology > Invertebrates > Insects
Plant pests and diseases
Live Archive:06 Jul 2023 00:18
Last Modified:06 Jul 2023 00:18

Repository Staff Only: item control page


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics