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The Biology and economic Importance of Alomya debellator (F.), a remarkable Parasite of the Swift Moth, Hepialus lupulinus (L.)

  • Ewen Cameron (a1)


While investigating the biological control of certain Hepialids, a very interesting Ichneumonid parasite, Alomya debellator (F.) was reared from the pupae of the Swift Moth, Hepialus lupulinus (L.).

The systematic position of this parasite has been thoroughly investigated and the members of the special sub-family, Metopiinae, to which it has been assigned, are characterised by the possession of only one trochanter on each foreleg. A. debellator is the sole representative of the tribe Alomyini.

After extensive collecting, and a thorough search of the literature, the conclusion has been reached that the distribution of this parasite is fairly local, but its range in Great Britain and certain other European countries is wide. As a result of the present study H. lupulinus has been definitely proved to be the host of A. debellator.

A fairly full account of the life-history of the parasite has been worked out, and amongst other things, a point of special interest is the arrest in development which occurs in the first-instar larva. Possible explanations of this phenomenon are discussed.

The morphological and anatomical structure of the larva have been fully investigated and described, and useful diagnostic characteristics both for the primary and mature larval stages, have been discovered.

The paper concludes with a discussion on the potential value of A. debellator as a factor in the control of H. lupulinus, and other allied species belonging to the genus Oncopera in Australia. It is maintained, on the evidence collected, that this parasite in some areas is probably the most important single factor of biological control. A note on the feeding habits of Hepialids, and a few remarks about the collecting of parasitised material are appended. Altogether some 7,000 specimens of H. lupulinus larvae and pupae many of which were parasitised by A. debellator were collected from the Willingham area of Cambridgeshire.



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