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The Biology of Casmara subagronoma (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae), a Stem-Boring Moth of Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (Myrtaceae): Descriptions of the Previously Unknown Adult Female and Immature Stages, and Its Potential as a Biological Control Candidate

Susan A. Wineriter-Wright, Melissa C. Smith, Mark A. Metz, Jeffrey R. Makinson, Bradley T. Brown, Matthew F. Purcell, Kane L. Barr, Paul D. Pratt
Published: 23 September 2020
 by  MDPI
 in Insects
Insects , Volume 11; doi:10.3390/insects11100653

Abstract: Rhodomyrtus tomentosa is a perennial shrub native to Southeast Asia and is invasive in South Florida and Hawai’i, USA. During surveys of R. tomentosa in Hong Kong from 2013–2018 for potential biological control agents, we collected larvae of the stem borer, Casmara subagronoma. Larvae were shipped in stems to a USDA-ARS quarantine facility where they were reared and subjected to biology studies and preliminary host range examinations. Casmara subagronoma is the most recent Casmara species to be described from males collected in Vietnam and Indonesia. Because the original species description was based on only two male specimens, we also provide a detailed description of the female, egg, larva, and pupa. Finally, we conducted preliminary host range trials utilizing Myrtus communis, Myrcianthes fragrans, and Camellia sinensis. Casmara subagronoma emerged from M. fragrans, a Florida-native shrub, and larvae were able to survive in non-target stems for over a year (>400 days). Based on these findings and difficulty in rearing, we do not believe C. subagronoma is a suitable insect for biological control of R. tomentosa at this time, but may warrant further study. This investigation also illustrates the importance of host surveys for conservation and taxonomic purposes.
Keywords: Gelechioidea / Myrtaceae / Stem Borer / Rhodomyrtus Tomentosa / Biological Control of Weeds / Casmara subagronoma

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