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A fungal epizootic in populations of Fiorinia externa Ferris (Hemiptera: Diaspididae) infesting hemlock trees, Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière (Pinales: Pinaceae) in forests of the Northeastern US has been recently detected. The current known distribution of the epizootic spans 36 sites in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. Colletotrichum acutatum Simmonds var. fioriniae Marcelino and Gouli var. nov. inedit. (Phyllachorales: Phyllachoraceae) was the most prevalent fungus recovered from infected scales. Bioassays indicated that this C. acutatum variety is highly pathogenic to F. externa. Mortality rates of >90 and >55% were obtained for F. externa crawlers and settlers, respectively. Significantly lower mortality levels, ≤ 22%, were obtained when three other species of insects were assayed. C. gleosporioides has also been shown to have pathogenic activity towards a scale insect. The data suggest that C. acutatum var. fioriniae from F. externa epizootics in the US, and the previously reported C. gloeosporioides f. sp. ortheziidae causing Orthezia praelonga epizootics in Brazil, may constitute distinct biotypes of Colletotrichum that have attained the ability to infect insects in addition to the commonly reported plant hosts.
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