A new species of Diaspiniphagus (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Aphelinidae) and key to the Nearctic species

S.N. Myartseva1; E. Ruíz-Cancino1; J. M. Coronado-Blanco1

Correspondence: *. Corresponding Author: Coronado-Blanco, Juana María. Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias, C.P. 87149, Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, México. Phone: +52(834) 31 81800 Ext. 2125. E-mail: E-mail:


Aphelinidae is a family of parasitoid wasps included in the superfamily Chalcidoidea; it is the family of Hymenoptera with the greatest number of successful cases in biological control, especially in soft scales (Hemiptera: Coccidae), armored scales (Hemiptera: Diaspididae) and whiteflies (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae). Fourteen genera of Aphelinidae have been recorded in México. Diaspiniphagus Silvestri is an aphelinid genus with nine species at world level; it was recorded from the Mexican Republic in 2017. A new species, Diaspiniphagus mexicanus Myartseva sp. nov., is described and illustrated in this article, it was reared in the State of Tamaulipas from the lac scale Tachardiella mexicana (Craw.) (Hemiptera: Kerriidae) on tenaza Havardia pallens (Benth.) Britton & Rose (fam. Fabaceae) and it is recorded as the first species of Diaspiniphagus attacking this scale and this family. Kerriidae includes the lac scales, about 90 species in nine genera have been described, especially from tropical areas; six species are known in Mexico. A key to the Nearctic species of Diaspiniphagus is presented. Considering the new species, ten species are known from this aphelinid genus.

Received: 2017 December 19; Accepted: 2018 May 4

revbio. 2020 Mar 23; 5(spe1): e420
doi: 10.15741/revbio.05.nesp.e420

Keywords: Key words: Biodiversity, new record, Tachardiella mexicana.


Nine genera of Aphelinidae were known to occur in Mexico in 2000 (Myartseva & Ruiz-Cancino, 2000). Recently, the number of aphelinid genera was increased to 14 (Myartseva et al., 2015). The genus Diaspiniphagus was recently recorded to Mexico (Myartseva et al., 2017). According to Hayat (2011), the world fauna of Diaspiniphagus consists of nine species, this genus was described mainly from the Nearctic region (four species), with one additional species described from each of the following countries/regions: Haiti, Australia, China, India and the Palaearctic region.

Diaspiniphagus was described by Silvestri (1927) and synonymized by Mercet (1928) with Coccophagoides (described by Girault in 1915), and this synonymy was accepted by other authors, including Graham (1976) and Hayat (1998). Yasnosh (1987) presented differences between these two genera and resurrected Diaspiniphagus as a valid genus.

This genus belongs to the tribe Pteroptricini of the subfamily Coccophaginae, from this tribe, the genera Dirphys Howard, Encarsia Foerster and Pteroptrix Westwood are known in Mexico. All known hosts of the Nearctic species of Diaspiniphagus belong to the family Diaspididae (Hemiptera: Coccoidea) (Myartseva et al., 2012).

The diagnosis of Diaspiniphagus Silvestri is the following: antenna with eight segments (1, 1, 3, 3); mandible with two teeth and a dorsal truncation; maxillary palpi two-segmented, labial palpi unsegmented; head dorsally with postocellar and vertical bars, also with medio-frontal, transfacial and facial lines; malar sulcus present; clypeus separate; pronotum membranous medially; mid lobe of seta; side lobes each with two setae; scutellum distinctly shorter than mid lobe and with 4 seta.; propodeum posteriorly with one triangular projection; fore wing with a long marginal vein, at least two-thirds the length of costal cell; stigmal vein with a narrow neck; submarginal vein with 4-5 setae; linea calva absent; tarsal formula 5-5-5; hypopygium extending at most three-fourth length of gaster, usually less. Male similar to female, body dark; genitalia with phallobase elongate (about 4-5 times as long as wide), basally rounded and gradually narrowed apically, parameres and digiti absent.

Diaspiniphagus is similar to the genera Coccophagoides Girault and Encarsia Foerster. Differences from genus Coccophagoides are: Diaspiniphagus - scutellum with four setae, axilla with one seta and phallobase of the genitalia elongate, about 4-5 times as long as wide; Coccophagoides - scutellum with six setae, axilla with two setae and phallobase of genitalia shorter, about three times as long as wide (following Viggiani & Battaglia, 1984). Diaspiniphagus is extremely similar to Encarsia, too (Hayat, 1998; Schmidt & Polaszek, 2007); in opinion of Hayat (2011), a phylogenetic and cladistics analysis based on morphology and molecular data may eventually prove Diaspiniphagus and Encarsia to be synonyms.

Six species of Diaspiniphagus are known in the Nearctic region, from these species, D. moeris (Walker) is widely distributed also in the Palaearctic region, and D. murtfeldtii (Howard) is also known from Argentina and Italy; other four species are present only in the United States, predominantly in the State of California (Noyes, 2015).

Approximately 90 species in nine genera of lac insects from family Kerriidae have been described worldwide, it is confined mostly to the tropics, with a minority of species found in low latitude desert areas; six species are known in Mexico (Ben-Dov, 2006). Tachardiella Cockerell includes 17 species in the world fauna (García et al., 2015). Mexican lac scale, T. mexicana (Comstock), is native to Mexico and Texas, USA (Stocks, 2012). Lac scales inhabit the woody portions of twigs and small branches. These species are plant pests that can cause branch dieback or even plant death (Gullan and Kondo, 2008). The host plants for T. mexicana are species of the families Fabaceae and Myricaceae (García et al., 2015).

From Tachardiella larreae (Comstock), native in the Southwestern United States and Mexico, natural enemies from the Chalcidoidea families Encyrtidae (three species) and Aphelinidae (one species) were reared (Triapitsyn, 2008; Stocks, 2012). None of the parasitoids were currently known from T. mexicana. The objectives of this research were to find T. mexicana parasitoids, to describe one new species of Diaspiniphagus from the State of Tamaulipas, Mexico and to elaborate a key to the Nearctic species of this genus.

Material and Methods

Methodology given by Noyes (1982), for Chalcidoidea was applied to collecting, rearing and preparing parasitoids. In one research project focused to study mistletoes (Viscaceae and Loranthaceae) and associated insects in Tamaulipas, Mexico, during October-December 2015, lac scales of the family Kerriidae were collected in Ciudad Victoria from three native trees of the Fabaceae family: Havardia pallens (Benth). Britton & Rose (fam. Fabaceae) [with mistletoe Phoradendron quadrangulare (Kunth) Griseb. (fam. Loranthaceae)], Pithecellobium dulce (Roxb). Benth (Fabaceae) and Ebenopsis ebano (Berland.) Bameby & J.W. Grimes (Fabaceae), which were infested with colonies of adults and nymphs of this scale. Twigs with scales were transferred into laboratory of the Faculty of Engineering and sciences of the Autonomus University of Tamaulipas (UAT) and placed into plastic containers for rearing parasitoids. One new species of Diaspiniphagus is described and a key to the species in the North American fauna was prepared.

Results and Discussion

Nymphs and adults of lac scales reared several species of parasitoids, one of them identified as Diaspiniphagus sp. based on the published descriptions and keys to Aphelinidae (Howard, 1894; Howard, 1907; Girault, 1908; Silvestri, 1927; Dozier, 1928; Woolley, 1997; Myartseva, et al., 2012). As hosts of Diaspiniphagus were only known armoured scales (fam. Diaspididae), thus the association of the family Kerriidae with this aphelinid is recorded for the first time. The description of the new species of Diaspiniphagus follows:

Diaspiniphagus mexicanus Myartseva, sp. nov. (Figure 1-5) Material. Holotype - female, Mexico, Tamaulipas, Ciudad Victoria, ex Tachardiella mexicana on Havardia pallens, 10.XI.2015 (coll. E. Ruiz-Cancino & S.N. Myartseva). Paratypes: same data as holotype, 4 females, 3 males. Holotype and two paratypes are preserved in the University of California, Riverside, USA (UCRC), three paratypes in British Museum of Natural History, London, United Kingdom (BMNH), two paratypes in the Insects Museum-UAT, Cd. Victoria,Tamaulipas, Mexico.

[Figure ID: f1] Figure. 1.

Diaspiniphagus mexicanus sp. nov.: 1 - antenna, female, 2 - fore wing, 3 - mid tarsus and spur, 4 - ovipositor, 5 - antenna, male.

Female. Length of body: 1.0-1.1 mm.

Coloration. Head yellow, antennae dark with scape light yellow. Mesosoma yellow, wings hyaline, legs whitish yellow, femora very slightly infuscate. Gaster yellow, tergites laterally very slightly infuscate, ovipositor yellow.

Structure. Head slightly wider than high, frontovertex 0.5 times as wide as head width. Eyes slightly less than twice the length of cheeks. Mandible with two teeth and a truncation. Antennae (Figure 1) inserted immediately beneath the level of lower margin of eyes. Radicle 2.5 times as long as wide. Scape 4.2 times as long as wide. Pedicel 1.7 times as long as wide. First funicular segment the shortest, about 0.7 times as wide as long, with one lateral side longer; second segment slightly longer than wide; third segment slightly longer and also slightly longer than wide. Club longer than funicle and pedicel combined; its first segment very slightly longer than the third funicular segment, the apical segment is the longest; second funicular segment with one longitudinal sensillu; and third funicular segment with two sensilla; all club segments with three sensilla each. Mid lobe of mesoscutum with 16-20 setae, situated symmetrically. Axillae with one seta each, side lobes with two setae each. Scutellum with two pairs of long setae. Fore wing (Figure 2) 3 times as long as wide, its marginal fringe about 0.4 times as long as maximum width of wing. Submarginal vein with 4-5 setae; marginal vein with 7-9 long setae along its anterior margin and very slightly longer than submarginal vein; stigmal vein with one small uncus. Tarsal formula 5-5-5. Mid tibial spur (Figure 3) slightly longer than basitarsus. Gastral tergites each with 2, 2, 2, 6, 4 and 4 setae, respectively. Ovipositor (Figure 4) slightly exserted, about 1.6 times as long as mid tibia; third valvula about 0.4 times as long as second valvifer.

Male. Length of body: 0.8-1.0 mm.

Coloration. Face yellow, occiput and longitudinal stripes behind hind ocelli brown, eyes black. Antennae brown, scape slightly lighter. Mesosoma dark brown, mid lobe of mesoscutum and scutellum yellowish brown, side lobes yellow, except apical part brown. Fore wings hyaline, submarginal and marginal veins infuscate. Legs brownish, apices of femora and tibiae and tarsi light. Gaster dark brown to black, apical tergite yellowish brown.

Structure. Head about 1.2 times as wide as high; frontovertex about 0.8 times as wide as head width. Eyes setose, 1.6 times as long as cheeks. Antennae (Figure 5) inserted at the level of lower margin of eyes. Radicle 2.5 times as long as wide. Scape 3.8 times as long as wide. Pedicel about as long as wide, shorter than the first funicular segment. First and second funicular segments equal in length, each one slightly longer than wide; third segment slightly longer, and slightly longer than wide. Club longer than funicle, its segments slightly longer than funicular segments. Funicular segments and club with 4 longitudinal sensilla each one, except apical segment with 3 sensilla. Setation of mesoscutum as in female. Sculpture of mid lobe of mesoscutum, scutellum and axillae elongate-cellulate. Fore wing 2.8 times as long as wide, its marginal fringe about 0.4 times as long as maximum width of the wing. Venation as in female. Setation of gastral tergites as in female. Genitalia about 0.7 times as long as mid tibia.

Comments. According to Noyes (2015), in North America are known six species of Diaspiniphagus, all distributed in the USA. D. mexicanus sp. nov. differs from these species by its hyaline wings, except D. maculatus (Howard) which has also wings hyaline but D. maculatus has antennal club brown, mesoscutum with two longitudinal brown bands, mid and hind tibiae each one with two brown bands, first and fourth to sixth gastral tergites with one complete brown cross-band each one. In D. mexicanus sp. nov., the antennal club is dark not brown, other segments of flagellum also dark, mesoscutum uniformly yellow, without longitudinal brown bands, mid and hind tibiae each one without brown bands, and gastral tergites laterally very slightly infuscated.

In the key to genera of Aphelinidae in the Nearctic region (Woolley, 1997), the new species runs to Coccophagoides Girault. Then, it is included a key to Nearctic species (females) of the genus Diaspiniphagus.

Key to females of Nearctic species of the genus Diaspiniphagus Fore wings hyaline…………………….....................……2

Fore wings infuscate……….................…........................…3

Mid lobe of mesoscutum with two longitudinal brown bands; mid and hind tibiae each with two brown bands; antennal club brown, second and third funicular segments whitish……….……………................... maculatus (Howard)

Mid lobe of mesoscutum without two longitudinal brown bands; mid and hind tibiae without two brown bands; antennal club, second and third funicular segments dark………………..………... mexicanus Myartseva sp. nov.

Body colour brown……………...................................….….4

Body with some infuscations………..........................……..5

Fore wing with one infuscation across the middle, beginning beneath the stigmal vein; club distinctly tapering to a point; scape more than five times as long as wide…………………........……........….. forbesi (Dozier)

Fore wing with one infuscation across the middle beneath stigmal and marginal veins; club not distinctly tapering to a point; scape about four times as long as wide………. moeris (Walker)

Fore wing uniformly infuscated; antennae black, except the apical segment of club and scape white…….. fuscipennis (Girault)

Fore wing not completely infuscated; antennae with second and third funicular segments white ………………………………...6

Gaster yellow with base and tip brown…… murtfeldtii (Howard)

Gaster black with white tip and a broad transverse fascia across basal third………………….. fasciativentris (Girault)

fn1Cite this paper: Myartseva S.N., Ruíz-Cancino, E. Coronado-Blanco, J. M. (2018). A new species of Diaspiniphagus (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Aphelinidae) and key to the Nearctic species. Revista Bio Ciencias 5(nesp), e420. doi: https://doi.org/10.15741/revbio.05.nesp.420


This research was supported by the Project “Estudios taxonómicos y biológicos de plagas y enemigos naturales en México” (PRODEP) and “Muérdagos de Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, sus plagas y enemigos naturales” (UAT). To the reviewers by their contribution to this paper.


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