Ooctonus vulgatus ( Hymenoptera, Mymaridae), a potential biocontrol agent to reduce populations of Philaenus spumarius (Hemiptera, Aphrophoridae ) the main vector of Xylella fastidiosa in Europe
As a vector of Xylella fastidiosa (Wells, 1987) in Europe, the meadow spittlebug Philaenus spumarius (Linnaeus, 1758) (Hemiptera, Aphrophoridae) is a species of major concern. Therefore, tools and agents to control this ubiquitous insect that develops and feeds on hundreds of plant species are wanted. We conducted a field survey of P. spumarius eggs in Corsica and provide a first report of Ooctonus vulgatus Haliday, 1833 (Hymenoptera, Mymaridae) as a potential biocontrol agent of P. spumarius in Europe. To allow species identification, we summarized the main characters distinguishing O. vulgatus from other European species of Ooctonus and generated CO/ DNA barcodes. Parasitism rates were variable in the four localities included in the survey but could reach 69% (for an average number of eggs that hatched per locality of 109). Based on the geographic occurrences of O. vulgatus obtained from the literature, we calibrated an ecological niche model to assess its potential distribution in the Holarctic. Obviously, several questions need to be addressed to determine whether O. vulgatus could become an effective biocontrol agent of P. spumarius in Europe. So far, O. vulgatus has been reared only from P. spumarius eggs, but its exact host-range should be evaluated to ensure efficiency and avoid non-target effect. The top-down impact of the parasitoid on vector populations should also be assessed on large data sets. Finally, the feasibility of mass rearing should be tested. We hope this report serves as a starting point to initiate research on this parasitoid wasp to assess whether it could contribute to reduce the spread and impact of X. fastidiosa in Europe.