Planococcus citri (citrus mealybug) is a common and damaging citrus crop pest which has proven difficult to control using conventional methods, such as chemical pesticides and insect growth regulators, particularly late in the citrus growing season. The virulence of two entomopathogenic fungal species was studied in laboratory bioassays against the crawlers and adults of P. citri. Isolates of Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana, collected from citrus orchards in the Eastern Cape Province in SouthAfrica, were verified using and molecular techniques. Mealybug bioassays were performed in 24-well plates. Beauveria bassiana (GAR 17 B3) and M. anisopliae (FCM AR 23 B3) isolates both resulted in 67.5 % mortality of mealybug crawlers and B. bassiana (GB AR 23 13 3) resulted in 64 % crawler mortality with concentrations of 1 × 107 conidia/ml. These three isolates were further tested in multipledose bioassays to determine the median lethal concentration (LC50), which were 5.29 × 105 conidia/ml for the M. anisopliae isolate (FCM AR 23 B3), 4.25 × 106 conidia/ml for B. bassiana (GAR 17 B3), and 6.65 × 107 conidia/ml B. bassiana (GB AR 23 13 3) for crawlers, respectively. The results of this study suggested that two isolates (M. anisopliae FCM AR 23 B3 and B. bassianaGAR 17 B3) showed potential for further development as biological control agents against citrus mealybug. Further research would be required to determine their ability to perform under field conditions.
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Vol. 24 • No. 2