Identification of mealybugs, soft scale insects and their predators in vineyards across the savannah agro-ecological region of Nigeria
Insect-vectored viruses are a major threat to grapevine production but there is a dearth of information on the occurrence and distribution of key grapevine pests in Nigeria. The recent detection of grapevine leafroll associated virus-1 (GLRaV-1), a known insect-vectored ampelovirus, in Nigeria elevates the importance of the identification of its potential vectors as a precursor to assessing the risk of grapevine leafroll disease spread. This study was conducted to determine the occurrence and diversity of potential vectors of grapevine viruses and their natural enemies in vineyards across the savannah agro-ecological region of Nigeria. Forty vineyard and nursery locations were surveyed during 2016 and 45 arthropod samples were collected. The samples were first morphologically identified, and DNA barcoding was conducted on a subset of 16 representative samples using universal primers specific to the Mitochondrial Cytochrome Oxidase subunit I (mtCOI) gene of most insects. The results indicated the presence of two species of scale insects (Parasaissetia nigra and Saissetia coffeae) and two mealybug species (Maconellicoccus hirsutus and Ferrisia virgata), some of
which are potential grapevine virus vectors, in Nigerian vineyards. In addition, the natural enemies of these insect species were detected which includes three species of parasitoids (Anagyrus kamali, Anagyrus pseudococci and Encarsia inaron) and one predator (Hyperaspidius mimus). While the detection of mealybugs and scale insects underscore the risk of vector-mediated virus spread in Nigerian vineyards, the identification of their natural enemies indicates presence of natural biological control agents to facilitate an integrated management of economically important grapevine virus diseases in the country.
Keywords: Mealybugs; scale insects; parasitoids and predators; insect vectors; grapevine viruses.