Eur. J. Entomol. 110 (4): 549-557, 2013 | 10.14411/eje.2013.075

Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) as a host of the parasitic fungus Hesperomyces virescens (Ascomycota: Laboulbeniales, Laboulbeniaceae): A case report and short review

Piotr CERYNGIER1, Kamila TWARDOWSKA2
1 Faculty of Biology and Environmental Sciences, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Wˇycickiego 1/3, 01-938 Warsaw, Poland; e-mail: p.ceryngier@uksw.edu.pl
2 Department of Phytopathology and Entomology, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Prawochenskiego 17, 10-721 Olsztyn, Poland; e-mail: kamila.twardowska@wp.pl

Hesperomyces virescens is an ectoparasite of some Coccinellidae, which until the mid-1990s was relatively rarely only reported from warm regions in various parts of the world. Analysis of the host and distribution data of H. virescens recorded in the Western Palaearctic and North America reveals several trends in the occurrence and abundance of H. virescens: (1) it has recently been much more frequently recorded, (2) most of the recent records are for more northerly (colder) localities than the early records and (3) the recent records are mostly of a novel host, the invasive harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis). While in North America H. virescens is almost exclusively found on H. axyridis, all European records of this association are very recent and still less numerous than records of Adalia bipunctata as a host. However, based on a relatively few published cases of the H. axyridis-H. virescens association in Europe and the case described in this paper, it is clear that the harlequin ladybird is currently the main host of this parasite. These changes in the abundance and geographical distribution of H. virescens are probably linked to some features of H. axyridis, such as its abundance, multivoltinism with overlapping generations, high level of promiscuity and overwintering in mass aggregations. The occurrence of these features in one species may make it especially suitable for H. virescens and other parasites that require close contact of host individuals for efficient transmission. Indeed, some of the data indicate that parasites other than H. virescens, like the podapolipid mite Coccipolipus hippodamiae and allantonematid nematodes of the genus Parasitylenchus may also heavily parasitize H. axyridis. We hypothesize that the acquisition of H. axyridis as a host by H. virescens, C. hippodamiae and Parasitylenchus spp. may have further consequences for the abundance and distribution of these parasites, including the expansion of their ranges to other continents colonized by invasive populations of this ladybird and areas in Asia where H. axyridis is native.

Keywords: Ascomycota, Laboulbeniales, Hesperomyces virescens, Coleoptera, Coccinellidae, Harmonia axyridis, host-parasite association, novel host, range shift, host suitability, Acari, Podapolipidae, Coccipolipus hippodamiae, Nematoda, Allantonematidae, Parasitylenchus

Received: February 1, 2013; Accepted: April 24, 2013; Prepublished online: October 1, 2013; Published: December 1, 2013

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