Lepidoptera pests of sapodilla (Manilkara zapota (L.) van Royen) in south Florida, with some comments on life history and natural control
Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota (L.) van Royen) is originally from the Neotropics, and has become one of the most important tropical crops in the last few decades. The major producers include India, Mexico, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Venezuela and Guatemala. It is also a minor crop in the United States, specifically South Florida. In 2015, it was reported that Florida growers suffered a loss of up to 80% of their production due to lepidopteran pests. We surveyed two sapodilla orchards weekly in South Florida for about six months. We collected 1,070 lepidopteran individuals (i.e., larvae, pupae and adults) belonging to seven families, nine genera and ten species. Phidotricha erigens Ragonot (30%), Banisia argutula Whalley (22%) and Holcocera crassicornella Dietz (13%) were the most frequently collected species. The most abundant months were April, May and June. Florida has records for ten of the sixteen species of lepidopterans associated with sapodilla in the Americas, four of which are newly reported host records. We also recorded one new record on loquat (Eriobotrya japonica (Thunb.) Lindl.) and another new record on ficus (Ficus sp.). Finally, we found a negative relationship between climate variables and the abundance of Lepidoptera species.