The laboulbenialean fungi occur throughout the world and are closely associated with a range of arthropods, including many coleopteran hosts. Throughout the summer of 2004, coccinellids were collected from a Bluegrass savanna woodland ecosystem, dominated by blue ash Fraxinus quadrangulata and Chinkapin Oak Quercus muehlenbergii, and the adults were examined for the presence of Hesperomyces virescens using binocular and scanning electron microscopy. Over 80% of adult Harmonia axyridis, a species previously reported as having a persistent association with the fungus, were infected. No significant differences were observed in incidence on male and female hosts, however, the distribution of fungus differed between sexes. Female H. axyridis had a greater percentage of infection on their elytron compared to other parts of their body whilst male infection was concentrated around their elytra, legs and abdomen. Although infection rates were significantly lower, we report, for the first time, the presence of this fungus on the hosts Cycloneda munda, Brachiacantha quadripunctata and Psyllobora vigintimaculata. This is the first study documenting the incidence of this insect-associated fungus with these native coccinellids of North America. In the samples collected from the Bluegrass savanna, two species (Coleomegilla maculata and Hyperaspis signata) were not infected by this fungus.
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J. Harwood and J. Obrycki are supported by the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station State Project KY099004 and the collecting was undertaken by funds provided by NSF ATOL grant number EF-0337220.
This is publication number 05-08-036 of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station.
Harwood, James D.; Ricci, Carlo; Romani, Roberto; Pitz, Kevin M.; Weir, Alex; and Obrycki, John J., "Prevalence and Association of the Laboulbenialean Fungus Hesperomyces virescens (Laboulbeniales: Laboulbeniaceae) on Coccinellid Hosts (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) in Kentucky, USA" (2006). Entomology Faculty Publications. 215.