The coffee berry borer (CBB) Hypothenemus hampei (Ferrari) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae) was accidentally introduced into México in 1978, and rapidly became the main pest of coffee. As an exotic pest, its management has been mainly based on biological control methods through the introduction of parasitoids from Africa. In this context, at the beginning of the present decade, the parasitoid Phymastichus coffea LaSalle (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) was imported to Mexico. Since then, several studies have been carried out as part of the post introduction evaluation of this parasitoid. In this paper, information concerning the parasitism and life-cycle of P. coffea in coffee farms is presented with the objective of providing information that elucidates its role as a biological control agent. P. coffea showed highly significant preferences for allocation of two eggs per host, usually one female and one male. Both offspring are able to develop and reach the adult stage successfully. Lifespan of adults is 2-3 days only. The degree of parasitism by P. coffea was more than 95% at the three altitudes tested, when releases consisted of a ratio of 10 CBB:1 parasitoid. The median survivorship of CBB parasitized by this wasp was 13, 15 and 19 days at the low, medium and high altitude coffee zones, respectively. The parasitism by P. coffea was higher when parasitoid releases were carried out simultaneously with the CBB, and decreased with the time between host and parasitoid releases. We showed that using P. coffea at a density of 1 parasitoid per 10 hosts resulted in a 3- to 5.6-fold decrease in CBB damage to the coffee seeds when compared to the control. The importance and value of these results are discussed in terms of the use of P. coffea as a biological control agent of the CBB in Latin America.
- Biological control
- Coffee berry borer