BIOLOGY OF Trilocha varians (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Bombycidae) ON Ficus benjamina L. IN THE PHILIPPINES
The biology of Trilocha varians was studied on Ficus benjamina L. in the laboratory and on Ficus shrubs. First to third instar larvae are dark green to grey with short, fleshy, curved postero-dorsal horn-like tubercle. Fourth to fifth instars are dull brown. The second to fourth instar larvae are covered with white powdery secretions. Pupation takes place in a boat-shaped cocoon, loosely woven with papery silk. The pupa is typically obtect and pale yellow, turns brown to black prior to adult emergence. Pupation takes place on leaves and on branches under field condition, and on detached leaves and branches of food plant as well as on the walls and paper towel covers of rearing vessels under laboratory condition. Adults are medium-size, and dark brown to grayish brown.
T. varians completed its development on F. benjamina. The incubation period ranged from 5 to 6 d (days) for both sexes. Total larval period ranged from 16 to 18 d for the male (x = 17.17 ± 0.98 d) and 17 to 21 d for the female (x = 19.10 ± 1.36 d). Pupal period ranged from 5 to 6 d for both sexes but with slight difference in mean duration (x = 5.17± 0.41 d for the male and x = 5.56 ± 0.52 d for the female). Total developmental period (egg to adult emergence) ranged from 26 to 29 d for the male (x = 27.33 ± 1.21 d) and 28 to 33 d for the female (x = 30.89 ± 1.67 d).The number of eggs laid per female ranged from 140 to 400 (x = 206.62 ± 85.78) during a span of 2 to 4 d (x = 2.63 ± 0.74) of oviposition period.
Feeding by the larvae of T. varians caused up to 100% defoliation and death of some shrubs of F. benjamina and F. nitida Thunb. located in the National Crop Protection Center, inside the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus.
Larvae and pupae of T. varians were parasitized by an unidentified ichneumonid parasitoid, which appeared capable of regulating field population of T. varians.
Key words: bombycid moth, Trilocha varians, fig, Ficus benjamina, life history, ichneumonid parasitoid
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