The lady beetle Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Mulsant has been observed in association with several mealybug species. However, only a subset of these species is considered essential food for C. montrouzieri, capable of supporting the beetle's growth and reproduction. This study evaluated the suitability of the striped mealybug, Ferrisia dasylirii (Cockerell), as prey for C. montrouzieri by determining the beetle's developmental time and predation capacity. The reproductive fitness of C. montrouzieri on a diet of mealybugs supplemented with pollen or honey was also investigated. Cryptolaemus montrouzieri completed development in about 25 days) and high larva-adult viability (98%) when fed F. dasylirii. The average number of F. dasylirii adults consumed by C. montrouzieri adults increased as a function of the number of prey provided, reaching a maximum of 1.3 prey/day. Survival of C. montrouzieri females that ate only pollen was higher than that of females deprived of food, but lower than for females preying on F. dasylirii ad libitum, with honey, or with pollen. Females deprived of food or fed only pollen did not produce eggs. Females fed F. dasylirii ad libitum or F. dasylirii honey were more fecund than females fed F. dasylirii pollen. In addition, females fed F. dasylirii ad libitum were more fertile than females fed other diets. Our results established that C. montrouzieri can successfully develop and reproduce when fed exclusively with F. dasylirii, which could easily support mass rearing of C. montrouzieri in the laboratory.
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Vol. 69 • No. 2