First records of Ophelimus eucalypti on eucalyptus in Italy, Greece and Spain
It is estimated that approximately 35 species of leaf-galling Hymenoptera occur on Eucalyptus species in Australia. Among them, several species of Ophelimus (Eulophidae) have been described but many uncertainties remain in relation to their taxonomy, biology, geographical distribution, host range, and natural enemies. During the last few years, several records have been made in Europe about the presence of Ophelimus (Rhicnopeltella) eucalypti on eucalyptus. In Europe, these new records were apparently not associated with heavy damage to eucalyptus trees. In New Zealand where O. eucalypti has also been introduced, the situation is different. Damage has been reported in the 1990s in commercial plantations of E. globulus and severe defoliations were noted on E. botryoides. O. eucalypti produces round (around 2 mm diameter), protruding galls on the leaves with elliptic exit holes. The adult wasp is 1.3-1.7 mm long, with a black and yellow body, grey antennae and hyaline wings. According to the literature, the distribution of O. eucalypti is the following, but as taxonomy is still unclear, there may be confusion between different species:
EPPO region: Greece (first record in 2002), Israel (no detail), Italy (2000), Morocco (no detail), Spain (2003).
Africa: Morocco, Kenya, Uganda.
Asia: Iran, Israel.
Oceania: Australia, New Zealand (introduced in 1987).
In Italy, O. eucalypti was first found in Toscana (province of Livorno) in 2000, and later in Campania (provinces of Napoli and Caserta), Calabria (province of Catanzaro) and Sicilia (province of Catania). Interestingly, in Lazio (city of Roma), Calabria (province of Catanzaro) and in Sicilia, another unidentified species attributed to the genus Aprostocetus (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) was found on eucalyptus trees planted along the streets, causing galls along the leaf mid-rib. In Italy, these insects did not seem to cause serious economic damage to eucalyptus trees.
Ophelimus eucalypti (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) was found for the first time in Greece (Attiki) in October 2002, infecting Eucalyptus camaldulensis. In Greece, parasitoids of O. eucalypti belonging to the genus Cirrospilus were also noted. No detail is given on the severity of damage.
In Spain, in 2003, O. eucalypti was found in the provinces of Cádiz and Huelva (Andalucía) and in Barcelona (Cataluña). Another unidentified species of Eulophidae causing galls along the mid-rib of eucalyptus leaves was also found in the provinces of Cádiz, Huelva, Sevilla (Andalucía) and Barcelona (Cataluña).
Arzone A, Alma A (2000) [A gall Eulophid of Eucalyptus in Italy]. Informatore Fitopatologico no. 12, 43-46.
Bella S, Loverde G (2002) Presenza nell’Italia continentale e in Sicilia di Ophelimus prope eucalypti (Gahan) e Aprosptocetus sr, galligeni degli eucalipti. Naturalista siciliano, S. IV, XXVI(3-4), 191-197.
Kavallieratos NG, Kontodimas DC, Anagnou-Veroniki M, Emmanouel NG (2006) First record of the gall inducing insect Ophelimus eucalypti (Gahan) (Hymenoptera: Chalcicoidea: Eulophidae) in Greece. Annals of the Benaki Phytopathological Institute (NS) 20, 125-128.
Pujade-Villar J, Riba-Flinch JM (2004) [Two Australian eulophids, very harmful to Eucalyptus spp., introduced into the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae).]. Boletin SEA no. 35, 299-301.
FAO website - New website on forest invasive species. http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2005/100308/index.html