Fundamental host range of Leptoypha hospita (Hemiptera: Tingidae), a potential biological control agent of Chinese privet
Chinese privet, Ligustrum sinense Lour., is an invasive shrub within riparian areas of the southeastern United States. Biological control is considered the most suitable management option for Chinese privet. The potential host range of the lace bug, Leptoypha hospita Drake et Poor, was evaluated on the basis of adult feeding and oviposition, combined oviposition–nymphal development no-choice tests, nymphal development no-choice tests, multiple generation comparison on Forestiera pubescens Nutt. and L. sinense no-choice tests, and multiple-choice tests with 45 plant species in 13 families. No-choice tests showed that the host range of L. hospita was restricted to the tribe Oleeae. In adult feeding and oviposition no-choice tests, the bug fed and oviposited significantly more on Chinese privet than all other test plant species except for three native Forestiera spp., two nonnative Syringa spp., and another exotic Ligustrum sp. Among those, only F. pubescens supported complete development in numbers comparable to Chinese privet. However, when reared for multiple generations lace bugs reared on F. pubescens were smaller and had lower fecundity than those reared on L. sinense, suggesting F. pubescens is not an optimal host. In multiple-choice tests, L. hospita displayed a strong preference for feeding and ovipositing on Chinese privet over other test plant species, with the exception of the closely related nonnative Syringa spp. and its congenic species Ligustrum vulgare. The results of this study suggest that the risk to nontarget plant species in North America is minimal, and L. hospita would be a promising candidate for Chinese privet biological control.