RUSSIAN WHEAT APHID
Diuraphis noxia Mordvilko -- Homoptera, Aphididae
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Russian wheat aphid is an invaded pest in the United States, attacking wheat, barley and other small grain crops. As of 1991 it has spread to 15 cereal-producing states and its range is still expanding. Currently it is a threat to 63% of the wheat and 58% of the barley production. Control by insecticides is not a viable approach because traditionally wheat and barley has not been extensively treated.
The development of resistant varieties and biological control are two control strategies currently under study. The aphid has a long term and widespread distribution in central Asia and the Mediterranean where it has been pestiferous only occasionally. This points to the possibility of effective natural enemies or the presence of resistant plant varieties in those regions. Native natural enemies in North America seem poorly adapted to Russian wheat aphid as a host, therefore biological control will require the introduction of exotic parasitoids and predators. Explorations for natural enemies from areas with a long history of Russian wheat aphid presence at low densities, as in some parts of the Soviet Union, are being given the highest priority. Some aphidiid and aphelinid parasitoids are currently under study at the University of California, Riverside.
Three parasitoids collected as of 1991 were Diaeretiella rapae (McIntosh), Ephedrus plagiator (Nees) and Aphelinus varipes (Foerster). Diaeretiella rapae has a geographical affinity with the Russian wheat aphid because it has been collected from it in many different areas, climates and habitats. However, examination of the relationship between the parasitoid and aphid reveals that D rapae does not typically occur on D. noxia when aphid densities are very low, or on this aphid in curled leaves early in the season (Gonzalez et al. 1991). Surveys conducted in 16 countries for natural enemies of Russian wheat aphid during 1988-91 revealed E. plagiator collected only in 1988 in Turkey (Gonzalez et al. 1991). This rare frequency of collection implies that E. plagiator rarely parasitizes D. noxia, which had already been suspected from an earlier examination of the literature. The third parasitoid, A. varipes has been collected from D. noxia in seven of nine countries within the presumed native range of the host. Additionally A. varipes was usually collected from D. noxia populations at low densities, and often from inside leaf whorls. Aphelinus varipes has thus been ranked with the highest priority as a candidate for importation, while E. plagiator was a low priority candidate (D. Gonzalez, unpub. data).
REFERENCES: [Additional references may be found at: MELVYL Library ]
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