Acutaspis albopicta (Cockerell) is an exotic scale detected on imported ‘Hass' avocados arriving in California from Mexico. An effort was made to understand how well this species might be biologically controlled by the parasitoid, Aphytis melinus DeBach. In no-choice trials, single life stages of A. albopicta and Aonidiella aurantii (Maskell) were exposed to one Ap. melinus female. Ap. melinus attacked and developed to adult on all A. albopicta life stages tested, which included early, middle, and late male and female second instars, and early, middle, and late female third instars. However, the proportion of scales attacked was relatively low (≤20%), as were the number of eggs laid on each scale stage. In six of seven comparisons of scale cover surface area between A. albopicta and Ao. aurantii that were similarly aged, Ao. aurantii was significantly larger. With intraspecific choice trials, females of Ap. melinus strongly preferred to parasitize the oldest and largest female scales in both single- and mixed-sex offerings. Younger, smaller scales were preferred for host feeding. Five comparisons of preference between A. albopicta and Ao. aurantii showed that Ap. melinus preferred 28- and 36-d-old Ao. aurantii females over similarly aged A. albopicta. However, Ap. melinus preferred 23-d-old males of A. albopicta. In three of five comparisons, Ao. aurantii was the preferred species to host feed on. More F1 females of Ap. melinus were recovered from both intraspecific choice trials compared with any stage in no-choice trials. Implications of incorporating Ap. melinus into biological control programs are discussed.
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Vol. 45 • No. 1