Evaluation of the impacts of herbivory by lace bugs on Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) survival and physiology
Biological control of chinese privet, Ligustrum sinense, is the best long-term option for control of this widespread invasive plant in the southeastern USA. A pre-release efficacy assessment was conducted by testing the effects of damage caused by a lace bug, Leptoypha hospita, on potted privet plants in the laboratory. Inoculating 15 pairs of lace bug adults on plants resulted in a significantly high defoliation rate and reduced leaf biomass by more than 59% compared to 0 and 3 lace bug pairs. Leaf biomass of plants inoculated with 3 and 9 pairs of lace bug did not differ significantly from control plants. The percentage of the total leaf area affected by lace bug feeding was positively correlated with the density of lace bugs inoculated. This was also evident by the reduced chlorophyll content of leaves exposed to 9 and 15 pairs of lace bugs and their offspring. Our tests showed that one generation of feeding by the lace buy caused significant defoliation as well as reduced photosynthetic activity of remaining leaves.