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The suitability of the balsam woolly adelgid, Adelges piceae Ratzeburg (Hemiptera: Adelgidae) as an alternate mass rearing host for the adelgid predator, Sasajiscymnus tsugae Sasaji and McClure (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) was studied in the laboratory. This predator is native to Japan and has been introduced to eastern hemlock, Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière (Pinales: Pinaceae), forests throughout the eastern United States for biological control of the hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae Annand (Hemiptera: Adelgidae), also of Japanese origin. Feeding, oviposition, immature development, and adult long-term survival of S. tsugae were tested in a series of no choice (single-prey) and paired-choice experiments between the primary host prey, A. tsugae, and the alternate host prey, A. piceae. In paired-choice feeding tests, the predator did not discriminate between eggs of the two adelgid species, but in the no choice tests the predator did eat significantly more eggs of A. piceae than those of A. tsugae. S. tsugae accepted both test prey for oviposition and preferred to lay eggs on adelgid infested versus noninfested host plants. Overall oviposition rates were very low (< 1 egg per predator female) in the oviposition preference tests. Predator immature development rates did not differ between the two test prey, but only 60% of S. tsugae survived egg to adult development when fed A. piceae compared to 86% when fed A. tsugae. S. tsugae adult long-term survival was significantly influenced (positively and negatively) by prey type and the availability of a supplemental food source (diluted honey) when offered aestivating A. tsugae sistens nymphs or ovipositing aestivosistens A. piceae adults, but not when offered ovipositing A. tsugae sistens adults. These results suggest that the development of S. tsugae laboratory colonies reared on a diet consisting only of A. piceae may be possible, and that the biological control potential of the predator might be expanded to include management of A. piceae in Christmas tree plantations.
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