Life cycle of the aquatic moth Cataclysta lemnata (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) was studied in laboratory conditions to obtain a basic biological knowledge useful for predicting the possible success of the herbivorous larvae of this insect as potential control agents in limiting the spread of the invasive American duckweed Lemna minuta (Alismatales: Araceae) in Italy. The multivoltinism of C. lemnata, as well as the high overall emergence from the pupal stage (85%), the high success in mating among the formed couples (>90%), and the high number of larvae born from each egg laying (on average 310 individuals), suggest that the insect can be successfully bred in the laboratory for the purposes of an augmentative biological control. Under experimental conditions, larvae developed in 23 days (through six larval instars, distinguishable by cephalic capsule dimensions) and pupae in 10, with no difference in duration between females and males. The larval phase resulted longer than the adult one (23 vs 10 days), therefore it can be considered the most suitable stage for releasing the insect in field for biocontrol purposes. Indeed, the larvae having a herbivorous diet might consume large amount of the invasive plant, contrarily to the adult phase which is focused exclusively on reproduction. The results emerged not only allow to contribute to the knowledge on aquatic lepidoptera that are scarcely known, but also support the effectiveness of a possible protocol for an augmentative biological control of the invasive alien duckweed L. minuta.
Mariani, F., Fattorini, S., Di Giulio, A., Ceschin, S. (2021). Development and reproduction of Cataclysta lemnata, a potential natural enemy of the invasive alien duckweed Lemna minuta in Italy. THE EUROPEAN ZOOLOGICAL JOURNAL, 88(1), 216-225 [10.1080/24750263.2021.1872721].