Host utilization of Chinese Privet (Lamiales: Oleaceae) and host choice by Leptoypha mutica (Hemiptera: Tingidae)
Exotic lace bugs (Hemiptera: Tingidae) have previously been evaluated for potential biocontrol of pervasive, exotic Chinese privet, Ligustrum sinense Lour. This study was conducted to determine if a native lace bug, Leptoypha mutica Say, could utilize Chinese privet and to determine the lace bug’s preferred host plant. A no-choice test determined the lace bug’s acceptance and utilization of three plant hosts: fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus L.), swamp privet (Foresteria acuminata Michx), and Chinese privet, based on frass production, oviposition, and survival of lace bugs. Choice tests in the laboratory and the field evaluated lace bug preference among swamp privet, Chinese privet, and green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marsh). All plant hosts supported the lace bugs in laboratory assays, but fewer eggs were produced on Chinese privet. Green ash was the most preferred while Chinese and swamp privet were equally preferred. These laboratory results were consistent with a field choice test and field observations. Chinese privet is a suitable host for Le. mutica, but not an optimal host, suggesting that host switching to Li. sinense by this lace bug is unlikely.