Kyle Gilder

Inventory and Food Web of Arthropod Fauna Associated with Lagerstroemia spp. (Myrtales: Lythraceae) in Texas.

Sustainable, effective management of crapemyrtle bark scale, Acanthococcus lagerstromiae (Kuwana), a non-native pest introduced from Asia, will likely include biological control. Before these strategies can be implemented, it is necessary to examine the relative abundances and distributions of arthropod species associated with the scale. In Texas, surveys of crapemyrtle ecology from two varietal groups of crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia spp.) were undertaken in Tarrant and Brazos counties across six consecutive seasons in 2018 – 2019. A rich arthropod community was discovered, and the most common predators were Araneae, coccinellids, and chrysopids. Insects in the families Thripidae, Eriococcidae, and Aphididae were common herbivores on Lagerstroemia spp. Numerous phytophagous and mycophagous mites were also collected. These herbivores constitute a reservoir of alternative prey for generalist predators that may also feed on A. lagerstroemiae. These collections were paired with a review of scientific literature, and a food web was constructed to illustrate direct and indirect effects of the predator community on A. lagerstroemiae in Texas. This approach should identify available niches whereby the release of natural enemies not occurring in Texas could lead to effective and sustainable biological control.

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