Skip to main content Accessibility help

Distinguishing suitable biotypes of Dactylopius tomentosus (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae) for biological control of Cylindropuntia fulgida var. fulgida (Caryophyllales: Cactaceae) in South Africa

  • C.W. Mathenge (a1) (a2) (a3), P. Holford (a3), J.H. Hoffmann (a1), H.G. Zimmermann (a2), R. Spooner-Hart (a3) and G.A.C. Beattie (a3)...

Cylindropuntia fulgida (Engelmann) F.M. Knuth var. fulgida (Engelmann) F.M. Knuth (Cff) (Caryophyllales: Cactaceae) is native to Mexico and Arizona and was introduced into South Africa for ornamental purposes. It subsequently became highly invasive, necessitating control. The cochineal insect, Dactylopius tomentosus (Lamarck) (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae), was selected as a potential biological control agent based on its restricted host range among Cylindropuntia species and previous success in controlling C. imbricata (DC.) F. Knuth (Ci). Eight D. tomentosus provenances (Cholla, Cholla E, Fulgida, Mamillata, Imbricata, Tunicata U, Tunicata V and Rosea) from Cylindropuntia species in their native ranges were reared on Cff, whilst Cholla and Imbricata were also reared on Ci. Large differences were found in the development and survival of crawlers, and in the reproductive capacity of females. Three subjective categories of provenance interaction with host plants were identified based on a fitness index (FI) calculated from data relating to crawler survival, female development time and fecundity: (i) thriving (FI≥1) – insects had shorter developmental times, high crawler survival and highly fecund females (Cholla); (ii) surviving (FI<1 but >0) – insects had extended development times, low crawler survival and low fecundity (Imbricata, Fulgida and Mamillata); and (iii) dying (FI=0) – insects died before or at the second instar (Rosea, Tunicata U and Tunicata V). Cholla, therefore, is highly suitable for biological control of Cff in South Africa. In addition, Cholla thrived on Cff but only survived on Ci whilst, in contrast, Imbricata thrived on Ci but only survived on Cff. This differential ability of provenances to thrive or survive on different host plants demonstrated that host adapted biotypes of D. tomentosus exist; therefore, biotypes should be taken into account when considering this species as a biological control agent of cactus weeds.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence Fax: +61 2 4570 1314 E-mail:
Hide All
Alstad, D. (1998) Population structure and the conundrum of local adaptation. pp. 321in Mopper, S. & Strauss, S. (Eds) Genetic Variation and Local Adaptation in Natural Insect Populations: Effects of Ecology, Life History, and Behaviour. New York, Chapman and Hall.
Anderson, E. (2001) The Cactus Family. 776 pp. Portland, OR, Timber Press.
Benson, L. (1982) The Cacti of the United States and Canada. 1044 pp. Stanford, CA, Stanford University Press.
Bravo-Hollis, H. (1978) Las Cáctaceas de Mexico. 743 pp. Mexico D.F., Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.
Briese, D.T. (2004) Weed biological control: applying science to solve seemingly intractable problems. Australian Journal of Entomology 43, 304317.
Briese, D.T., Pettit, W.J. & Walker, A. (2004) Evaluation of the biological control agent, Lixus cardui, on Onopordum thistles: experimental studies on agent demography and impact. Biological Control 31, 165171.
Caillaud, M.C. & Via, S. (2000) Specialized feeding behavior influences both ecological specialization and assortative mating in sympatric host races of pea aphids. The American Naturalist 156, 606621.
Clarke, A.R. & Walter, G.H. (1995) ‘Strains’ and the classical biological control of insect pests. Canadian Journal of Zoology 73, 17771790.
Cox, J.M. (1987) Pseudococcidae (Insecta: Hemiptera). Fauna of New Zealand 11, 230 pp. Auckland, New Zealand, DSIR Plant Protection.
De Beer, H. (1986a) Rosea cactus. Farming in South Africa. Weeds A. 13. Pretoria, South Africa, Government Printer.
De Beer, H. (1986b) Imbricate cactus. Farming in South Africa. Weeds A. 14. Pretoria, South Africa, Government Printer.
De Lotto, G. (1974) On the status and identity of the cochineal insects (Homoptera: Coccoidea: Dactylopiidae). Journal of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa 37, 167193.
Diehl, S.R. & Bush, G.L. (1984) An evolutionary and applied perspective of insect biotypes. Annual Review of Entomology 29, 471504.
Drès, M. & Mallet, J. (2002) Host races in plant-feeding insects and their importance in sympatric speciation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 357, 471492.
Githure, C.W., Zimmermann, H.G. & Hoffmann, J.H. (1999) Host specificity of biotypes of Dactylopius opuntiae (Cockerell) (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae): prospects for biological control of Opuntia stricta (Haworth) Haworth (Cactaceae) in Africa. African Entomology 7, 4348.
Godínez-Álvarez, H., Valverde, T. & Ortega-Baes, P. (2003) Demographic trends in the Cactaceae. The Botanical Review 69, 173203.
Guerra, G.P. & Kosztarab, M. (1992) Biosystematics of the family Dactylopiidae (Homoptera: Coccineae) with emphasis on the life cycle of Dactylopius coccus Costa: studies on the morphology and systematics of scale insects, No. 16. Bulletin No. 92-1. Blacksburg, Virginia, Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Henderson, L. (1995) Plant invaders of southern Africa. Handbook No. 5. 177 pp. Pretoria, South Africa, Plant Protection Research Institute.
Henderson, L. (2001) Alien weeds and invasive plants: a complete guide to declared weeds and invaders in South Africa. Handbook No. 12. 300 pp. Roodeplaat, South Africa, ARC, Plant Protection Research Institute.
Henderson, L. & Zimmermann, H.G. (2003) Chainfruit cholla (Opuntia fulgida Engelm.) misidentified as rosea cactus (Opuntia rosea DC.) in South Africa. South African Journal of Plant and Soil 20, 4647.
Hoffmann, J.H., Impson, F.A.C. & Volchansky, C.R. (2002) Biological control of cactus weeds: implications of hybridization between control agent biotypes. Journal of Applied Ecology 39, 900908.
Hokkanen, H.M.T. & Pimentel, D. (1984) New approach for selecting biological control agents. Canadian Entomologist 116, 11091121.
Hokkanen, H.M.T. & Pimentel, D. (1989) New associations in biological control: theory and practice. Canadian Entomologist 121, 829840.
Hosking, J.R. (1984) The effect of temperature on the population growth potential of Dactylopius austrinus De Lotto (Homoptera: Dactylopiidae), on Opuntia aurantiaca Lindley. Australian Journal of Entomology 23, 133139.
Jaenike, J. (1981) Criteria for ascertaining the existence of host races. American Naturalist 117, 830834.
Julien, M.H. & Griffiths, M.W. (1999) Biological Control of Weeds: A World Catalogue of Agents and their Target Weeds. 186 pp. Wallingford, UK, CAB International.
Mathenge, C.W., Holford, P., Hoffmann, J., Spooner-Hart, R., Beattie, G.A.C. & Zimmermann, H.G.The biology of Dactylopius tomentosus (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research, in press (doi: 10.1017/S0007485308006597).
Malan, D.E. & Zimmermann, H.G. (1988) Chemical control of Opuntia imbricata (Han.) DC and Opuntia rosea DC. Applied Plant Science 2, 1316.
Miller, D.R. & Kosztarab, M. (1979) Recent advances in the study of scale insects. Annual Review of Entomology 24, 127.
Mopper, S. & Strauss, S. (1998) Genetic Structure and Local Adaptation in Natural Insect Populations: Effects of Ecology, Life History, and Behaviour. 449 pp. New York, Chapman and Hall.
Moran, V.C. (1980) Interactions between phytophagous insects and their Opuntia hosts. Ecolological Entomology 5, 153164.
Moran, V.C. (1981) Belated kudos for cochineal insects. Antenna 5, 5458.
Moran, V.C. & Cobby, B.S. (1979) On the life history and fecundity of the cochineal insect, Dactylopius austrinus De Lotto (Homoptera: Dactylopiidae), a biocontrol agent for the cactus Opuntia aurantiaca. Bulletin of Entomological Research 69, 629636.
Moran, V.C. & Zimmermann, H.G. (1984a) The biological control of cactus weeds: achievements and prospects. Biocontrol News and Information 5, 297320.
Moran, V.C. & Zimmermann, H.G. (1984b) The biological control of cactaceae: success ratings and the contribution of individual agent species. pp. 6975in Delfosse, E.S. (Ed.) Proceedings of the VI Symposium of Biological Control of Weeds. Agriculture Canada, University of British Columbia, 19–25 September 1984, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Moran, V.C. & Zimmermann, H.G. (1991) Biological control of cactus weeds of minor importance in South Africa. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment 37, 3755.
Plant Protection Research Institute (2007) Plant protection news, No. 73. Pretoria, South Africa, PPRI.
Portillos, M.L. & Vigueras, A.L. (2006) A review of the cochineal species in Mexico, hosts and natural enemies. Acta Horticulturae 728, 249255.
Rebman, J.P. (1995) Biosystematics of Opuntia subgenus Cylindropuntia (Cactaceae), the chollas of lower California, Mexico. PhD dissertation, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.
Rebman, J.P. & Pinkava, D.J. (2001). Opuntia cacti of north America – an overview. Florida Entomologist 84, 474483.
Rodríguez, L.C., Méndez, M.A. & Niemeyer, H.M. (2001) Direction of dispersal of cochineal (Dactylopius coccus Costa) within the Americas. Antiquity 75, 7377.
Sheppard, A.W., Hodge, P., Paynter, Q. & Rees, M. (2002) Factors affecting invasion and persistence of broom Cytisus scoparius in Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology 39, 721734.
Snee, R.D. (1974) Graphical display of two-way contingency tables. American Naturalist 28, 912.
Spitzer, B. (2006) Local maladaptation in the soft scale insect Saissetia coffeae (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Evolution 60, 18591867.
Via, S. (1991) Specialized host plant performance of pea aphid clones is not altered by experience. Ecology 72, 14201427.
Volchansky, C.R. (2000) Interbreeding between two biotypes of Dactylopius opuntiae (Homoptera: Dactylopiidae): implications for biological control of Opuntia stricta and Opuntia ficus-indica (Cactaceae) in South Africa. MSc thesis. University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
Volchansky, C.R., Hoffmann, J.H. & Zimmermann, H.G. (1999) Host-plant affinities of two biotypes of Dactylopius opuntiae (Homoptera: Dactylopiidae): enhanced prospects for biological control of Opuntia stricta (Cactaceae) in South Africa. Journal of Applied Ecology 36, 8591.
Wallace, R.S. & Gibson, A.C. (2002) Evolution and systematics. pp. 235254in Nobel, P.S. (Ed.) Cacti: Biology and Uses. Berkeley, CA, University of California Press.
Wapshere, A.J. (1974) Host-specificity of phytophagous organisms and the evolutionary centres of plant genera or sub-genera. Entomophaga 19, 301309.
Williams, D.J. & Granara de Willink, M.C. (1992) Mealybugs of Central and South America. pp. 635. Wallingford, UK, Commonwealth Science Council and CAB International.
Zimmermann, H.G. (1978) Opuntia rosea DC. pp. 166in Stirton, C.H. (Ed.) Plant Invaders: Beautiful but Dangerous. Cape Town, South Africa, The Department of Nature and Environmental Conservation of the Cape Provincial Administration.
Zimmermann, H.G. & Granata, G. (2002) Insect pests and diseases. pp. 235254in Nobel, P.S. (Ed.) Cacti: Biology and Uses. Berkeley, CA, University of California Press.
Zwölfer, H. & Romstöck-Völkl, M. (1991) Biotypes and the evolution of niches in phytophagous insects on Cardueae hosts. pp. 487507in Price, P.W., Lewinsohn, T.M., Fernandes, G.W. & Benson, W.W. (Eds) Plant-Animal Interactions: Evolutionary Ecology in Tropical and Temperate Regions. New York, Wiley.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Bulletin of Entomological Research
  • ISSN: 0007-4853
  • EISSN: 1475-2670
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-entomological-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed