a1 C.S.I.R.O. Biological Control Unit, 335 Avenue Abbé Paul Parguel, 34000 Montpellier, France
The biology and host specificity of Dactynotus chondrillae (Nevsk.) and Chondrillobium blattnyi (Pintera) living on the weed Chondrilla juncea (Compositae, Cichoriaceae) have been studied in the Mediterranean region as part of the biological control programme against this weed for Australia. Both are recorded from south-eastern Russia to the western Mediterranean region. The two species are monoecious. D. chondrillae has a facultative sexual reproductive phase every year but Chondrillobium blattnyi reproduces indefinitely by parthenogenesis in the Mediterranean region. D. chondrillae feeds mostly on young shoots, has population peaks in the spring and in the autumn, and can damage Chondrilla in the field. Chondrillobium blattnyi is a leaf feeder capable of seriously injuring the rosettes, but it never occurs in large enough populations in nature to be damaging. To demonstrate specificity, both aphids were tested against various Cichoriaceae and other Compositae and also against 61 cultivated plant species belonging to 20 families. The two aphids were shown to be specific to the genus Chondrilla. In the laboratory D. chondrillae was less host restricted than the other aphid and it reproduced on Sonchus asper and Taraxacum officinale. Comparative testing with strains of the two aphids from various sources against various forms of C. juncea showed that each strain was adapted to the form of C. juncea occurring in its own geographic area. The southern French strain of these aphids was ill-adapted to the main Australian form of C. juncea, but a strain of D. chondrillae originating from the Italian Adriatic coast heavily infested this form. D. chondrillae was not considered to be specific enough to permit its introduction into Australia and the introduction of Chondrillobium blattnyi has been delayed until it can be shown that it cannot transmit virus diseases that affect lettuce.
(Received July 10 1973)
(Revised December 28 1973)