Journal of Economic Entomology. 111(3), pp. 1121-1130
Publication year: 2018
The genus Physokermes Targioni Tozzetti includes species that are distributed in the Holarctic region and feed on conifers. The recently described scale Physokermes hellenicus (Kozár and Gounari) (Hemiptera: Coccidae) is an endemic species of Greece whose host plants are fir trees of the genus Abies (Pinales: Pinaceae). It is considered as beneficial scale insect species since its honeydew secretions are exploited by honeybees leading to the production of a special honey with important physicochemical characteristics. Since there are no previous data on the natural enemies of P. hellenicus, an investigation was carried out during 2013 in forested areas of eight mountains in south and central Greece aiming to correlate the presence of P. hellenicus with certain parasitoids and predators. Seven species of Encyrtidae, Eulophidae, Pteromalidae, and Eurytomidae (Hymenoptera); five species of Anthribidae and Coccinellidae (Coleoptera); and four species of Dictinidae, Linyphiidae, and Theridiidae (Araneae) were identified. Twelve of them were identified at the species level while four at the genus level. Among them Microterys lunatus (Dalman) (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae), Pseudorhopus testaceus (Ratzeburg) (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae), and Anthribus fasciatus Forster (Coleoptera: Anthribidae) were the most abundant natural enemies of P. hellenicus adult female while Metaphycus unicolor Hoffer (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) and Trichomasthus sp. (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) were found to parasitize P. hellenicus male nymph. Cinetata gradata (Simon) (Araneae: Linyphiidae) is reported for first time in the Greek arachnofauna. Our results suggest that the abundance of the fir scale P. hellenicus could be affected by a complex of parasitoid and predator species of different taxa. Future long-term research on these species in relation with abiotic factors would help to understand possible fluctuation of the scale’s population.