First report of Dactylopius opuntiae in Lebanon
In 2012, Dactylopius opuntiae* (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae) was detected for the first time in Lebanon in the region of Nabatieh on Opuntia ficus-indica (prickly pear). The origin of this introduction remains unknown. A survey conducted in 2014 showed that the pest is widespread in Southern Lebanon and causes severe damage to O. ficus-indica (including plant mortality in some cases) leading to crop losses for farmers who depend on prickly pear production to increase their incomes. In 2015, new outbreaks were discovered in the region of Jezzine and Chouf, approximately 18 km away from the first site of detection. In many observed sites, the predator Cryptolaemus montrouzieri (Coleoptera: Coccinelllidae) was found in association with D. opuntiae, but predator populations were too low to regulate the pest. This is the first time that D. opuntiae is reported from Lebanon.
* Dactylopius opuntiae feeds on Opuntia species. This scale has been used as a biocontrol agent against Opuntia spp. where these plants are considered as weeds. However, in areas where Opuntia spp. are grown as crops, the presence of this scale can cause severe damage.
Moussa Z, Yammouni D, Azar D (2017) Dactylopius opuntiae (Cockerell, 1896), a new invasive pest of the cactus plants Opuntia ficus-indica in the South of Lebanon (Hemiptera, Coccoidea, Dactylopiidae). Bulletin de la Société entomologique de France 122(2), 173-178.