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Acta zoológica mexicana

On-line version ISSN 2448-8445Print version ISSN 0065-1737


VANEGAS-RICO, J. M. et al. Natural enemies of Dactylopius opuntiae (Cockerell) on Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller in Central Mexico. Acta Zool. Mex [online]. 2010, vol.26, n.2, pp.415-433. ISSN 2448-8445.

Prickly pear, Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller, is cultivated for many purposes around the world. In Mexico, people consume young pads as vegetables and call them "nopalitos". The production of nopalitos occurs mainly around Mexico City where cochineal insects (Dactylopius spp.) are one of the most important pests. Farmers partly control Dactylopius using insecticides, but biological control could offer a tool for the Integrated Pest Management. In this paper the cochineal insects and their natural enemies were studied in Tlalnepantla, Morelos, one of the most important regions for nopalitos production in Mexico. In order to determine Dactylopius species, 30 samples sites were selected in this region. Additionally natural enemies were collected every other week during one year period in five different zones. Dactylopius opuntiae (Cockerell) was the only cochineal species found in Tlalnepantla. The natural enemies, in order of abundance, were Leucopis bellula, Sympherobius barberi, Laetilia coccidivora, Hyperaspis trifurcata, Salpingogaster cochenillivorus, Sympherobius angustus, and Chilocorus cacti. We also included some lab and field biology descriptions of these predators. Diverse factors of crop management appeared to affect D. opuntiae population and their natural enemies.

Keywords : Prickly pear; pests; Dactylopiidae; predators; biological control.

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