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Keywords:

  • biological control;
  • egg-larval parasitism;
  • Indonesia;
  • new species;
  • Papua New Guinea;
  • parasitoid

Abstract

The subfamily Cheloninae has not been studied in any detail for Australia for more than 80 years, and yet they are an important group of parasitoids of lepidopteran larvae, with many undescribed species, some of which cannot be easily assigned to genera. As a precursor to undertaking taxonomic revisions of specific genera for the Australian fauna, this study assesses the likely species richness of the fauna, provides a key to genera to facilitate their identification, provides a checklist of species and notes on their taxonomy, and discusses their biology. In so doing, we recognise two new genera, Austroascogaster gen. nov., represented by four species, A. gloriousensis sp. nov. (Queensland), A. mellosa sp. nov. (type species) (Queensland, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia), A. nigripropodea sp. nov. (Queensland) and A. varia sp. nov. (Queensland, Indonesia), and Phanaustrotoma gen. nov. represented by P. alba sp. nov. (Queensland) and P. pallina sp. nov. (type species) (Queensland). Following this study, the Australian chelonine fauna comprises 47 species, of which 43 are endemic to the continent; two species, Chelonus phthorimaeae Gahan and Chelonus curvimaculatus Cameron, have been successfully introduced as biological control agents against the potato tuber moth (Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller); Gelechiidae), while three species represent questionable records as there is no reliable evidence that they ever established on the continent, viz, Ascogaster quadridentata Wesmael, Chelonus blackburni Blackburn & Cameron and Phanerotoma hendecasisella Cameron. Based on its description and biology, Phanerotoma coccinellae Girault (Queensland) is undoubtedly not a member of the Cheloninae; however, the holotype of this species is apparently lost.