Ectropis grisescens Warren 1894 (Lepidopotera: Geometridae) and Ectropis obliqua Prout 1915 (Lepidopotera: Geometridae) are the most destructive chewing pests in China's tea plantations. Ectropis grisescens sex pheromone lures and E. obliqua nucleopolyhedrosis virus (EoNPV) are two species-specific and effective bio-control technologies to control these pests. Because these two species are morphologically similar, tea growers are unable to discriminate them by visual inspection. Hence, determining whether to use E. grisescens sex pheromone lures or EoNPV is difficult without knowledge on the geographical distribution of these two Ectropis species in China. In this study, we developed an efficient identification method, which is considerably cheaper and faster than sequencing the cytochrome c oxidase I gene. Overall, 2,588 E. grisescens and E. obliqua samples, collected from 13 provinces and municipalities in China covering the major regions where these pests have been reported, were identified. All insect samples from southern Jiangsu Province were identified as E. obliqua. Both Ectropis species were mix-distributed at the Anhui–Zhejiang Province border areas, whereas E. grisescens was mostly collected from the other sampling sites. Thus, E. obliqua might be mainly distributed at the junction of Jiangsu, Anhui, and Zhejiang Provinces. In contrast, E. grisescens has a considerably wide distribution area and is the main lepidopteran pest in the tea plantations of China. Our results contribute to improve the management of E. grisescens and E. obliqua populations and provide new insights for further studies on these two species.
cytochrome c oxidase I
polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism method