EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 07 - 2012 Num. article: 2012/147

Addition of Thaumastocoris peregrinus to the EPPO Alert List

Thaumastocoris peregrinus (Hemiptera: Thaumastocoridae) is a pest of eucalyptus. Originating from Australia, it has been introduced into South Africa and South America during the last decade where it is causing damage to eucalyptus plantations. More recently, T. peregrinus has been detected in other countries in Africa (Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Kenya), in Italy (2011), and in New Zealand (2012). In Italy, heavy infestations of T. peregrinus were first noticed in September 2011 on several Eucalyptus species (E. camaldulensis, E. gomphocephala, E. bridgesiana, E. camaldulensis x E. biscostata, E. camaldulensis x E. grandis) in Roma (Lazio region). In New Zealand, the pest was first found in March 2012 on E. nicholii during a routine survey in East Tamaki, Auckland and it is considered to be established in this area. Surveys are continuing in New Zealand to determine the extent of the infestation. Considering the invasive behaviour of this insect and its potential damage to eucalyptus trees, the EPPO Secretariat decided to add T. peregrinus to the Alert List.

Thaumastocoris peregrinus (Hemiptera: Thaumastocoridae) – Bronze bug
Why: Thaumastocoris peregrinus is native to Australia where it feeds on a wide range of Eucalyptus species. The insect has become a pest on Eucalyptus trees in Sydney (AU) where heavy infestations are found on street and garden trees. In 2003, T. peregrinus was first detected in South Africa and in 2005 in Argentina. It has since spread to Eucalyptus trees in Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Malawi, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Italy and New Zealand. In some cases, heavy infestations have led to tree mortality. Considering the invasive behaviour of this insect and its potential damage to eucalyptus trees, the EPPO Secretariat added T. peregrinus to the Alert List.

Where: Originating from Australia, in the last decade it has spread to many other countries in different parts of the world.
EPPO region: Italy (first found in 2011, Lazio region).
Africa: Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe.
South America: Argentina, Brazil (Bahia, Distrito Federal, Espirito Santo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, São Paulo), Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay.
Oceania: Australia, New Zealand (first found in 2012 near Auckland).

On which plants: Eucalyptus species (including some Corymbia species, previously classified under Eucalyptus). T. peregrinus has been recorded on many eucalyptus species: Corymbia citriodora, C. henryi, C. maculata, E. argophloia, E. benthamii, E. botryoides, E. bridgesiana, E. camaldulensis, E. dorrigoensis, E. dunnii, E. globulus, E. gomphocephala, E. grandis, E. longirostrata, E. macarthuri, E. maidenii, E. nicholii, E. nitens, E. paniculata, E. pauciflora, E. punctata, E. robusta, E. saligna, E. scoparia, E. sideroxylon, E. smithii, E. tereticornis, E. urophylla, E. viminalis, as well as hybrids (e.g. E. camaldulensis x biscostata, E. grandis x camaldulensis, E. grandis x nitens, E. grandis x urophylla). Eucalyptus species present some variability in their susceptibility to the pest, and from the literature it seems that the most serious damage is observed on E. camaldulensis, E. nicholii, E. scoparia, E. tereticornis, and E. viminalis.

Damage: T. peregrinus feeds on Eucalyptus leaves causing leaf discoloration (bronzing, reddening, yellowing), early senescence and stunted growth. Heavy infestations can lead to severe defoliation, branch dieback, and eventually tree death. Severe damage has been observed on urban trees (E. scoparia and E. nicholii) in Sydney and tree mortality has been reported from South Africa and Brazil. However, studies about the economic impact could be not found. T. peregrinus is also considered as a nuisance, having been reported to ‘sting’ people in urban parks and playgrounds.
Adults are light brown with a flattened body (2-3.5 mm long). Eggs are dark, oval (0.5 mm long - 0.2 mm wide) with a sculptured chorion. They are laid singly or more often in clusters on leaves and twigs. T. peregrinus has 5 larval instars (or nymphs). All instars can be present on the same leaf. The life cycle is rather short, approximately 35 days (20 days at 17-20°C in laboratory conditions). A female can lay approximately 60 eggs during its lifespan (30 days).
View pictures: http://photos.eppo.org/index.php/album/584-thaumastocoris-peregrinus-thmcpe

Dissemination: Adults and nymphs are agile and can move rather quickly on the leaves. Data is lacking about the potential for natural spread of T. peregrinus. Over long distances, although the exact pathways of introduction remain unknown, T. peregrinus has shown a high potential for spread between continents. Studies on the invasion patterns of T. peregrinus in South Africa and South America have shown that 3 distinct introductions originating from the Sydney area occurred before 2005. These introductions coincide in time with the outbreaks in Sydney that have occurred regularly on urban E. nicholli and E. scoparia during the last decade. In Brazil, natural spread from neighbouring countries (Argentina and Uruguay) but also spread in association with international trade has probably taken place. In the state of Sao Paulo, it is suspected that the pest arrived via airplanes because it was found in eucalyptus trees near the international airports of Viracopos/Campinas and of Guarulhos (near São Paulo city). The pest was found regularly near the main highways of São Paulo (possibly spread by trucks carrying eucalyptus logs with leaves and branches attached).

Pathway: Plants for planting, cut branches, wood? (as a hitchhiker) from countries where T. peregrinus occurs.

Possible risks: In the Southern part of the EPPO region, eucalyptus trees are planted on a large scale for the production of wood, wood pulp, charcoal and biomass fuel. They are also largely used as ornamental trees in parks and gardens in many parts of the EPPO region. Control of T. peregrinus is difficult. Systemic insecticides (imidacloprid) applied as trunk injections have been found to be effective in controlling T. peregrinus in some urban trees near Sydney in Australia, but this approach cannot be used for large scale application in forest plantations or on large numbers of urban trees. Biological control methods are being investigated. Egg parasitoids (Clerochoides noackae, Stethynium sp. both Hymenoptera: Mymaridae) have been identified in Australia. In Brazil, several natural enemies have been reported, such as predators, Chrysoperla externa (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae), Atopozelus opsimus (Rhynchota: Reduviidae), and entomopathogenic fungi (e.g. Beauveria bassiana). However, the efficacy of these potential biological agents remains to be demonstrated. Studies have identified a male aggregation pheromone but for the moment, the potential use of this compound for the management of T. peregrinus in eucalyptus plantations also needs to be further investigated. T. peregrinus is a serious pest of Eucalyptus species in the Southern Hemisphere and could become a forest and urban pest in Southern Europe and in the Mediterranean Basin. Finally, it should be underlined that T. peregrinus is now part of an already a long list of exotic pests of eucalyptus which have recently been introduced into the EPPO region (e.g. Blastospylla occidentalis, Ctenarytaina eucalypti, C. spatulata, Glycaspis brimblecombei, Ophelimus maskelli, Leptocybe invasa, Phoracantha recurva).

EPPO RS 2012/147
Panel review date: -
Entry date 2012-07


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