Eriophyid Mites in Classical Biological Control of Weeds: Progress and Challenges

Abstract

A classical biological control agent is an exotic host-specific natural enemy, which is intentionally introduced to obtain long-term control of an alien invasive species. Among the arthropods considered for this role, eriophyid mites are likely to possess the main attributes required: host specificity, efficacy, and long-lasting effects. However, so far, only a few species have been approved for release. Due to their microscopic size and the general lack of knowledge regarding their biology and behavior, working with eriophyids is particularly challenging. Furthermore, mites disperse in wind, and little is known about biotic and abiotic constraints to their population growth. All these aspects pose challenges that, if not properly dealt with, can make it particularly difficult to evaluate eriophyids as prospective biological control agents and jeopardize the general success of control programs. We identified some of the critical aspects of working with eriophyids in classical biological control of weeds and focused on how they have been or may be addressed. In particular, we analyzed the importance of accurate mite identification, the difficulties faced in the evaluation of their host specificity, risk assessment of nontarget species, their impact on the weed, and the final steps of mite release and post-release monitoring.

Description

Keywords

Eriophyidae, invasive alien plants, taxonomy, host plant specificity, risk assessment, impact, release, post-release monitoring

Citation

Marini, F.;Weyl, P.; Vidovi´c, B.; Petanovi´c, R.; Littlefield, J.; Simoni, S.; de Lillo, E.; Cristofaro, M.; Smith, L. Eriophyid Mites in Classical Biological Control ofWeeds: Progress and Challenges. Insects 2021, 12, 513. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12060513
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