Causton, C., Lincango, M.P., & Poulsom, T.G.A. 2004 Feeding range studies of Rodolia cardinalis (Mulsant), a candidate biological control agent of Icerya purchasi Maskell in the Galápagos islands.. Biological Control 29(3): 315-325.

Notes: The immediate threat of the cottony cushion scale, Icerya purchasi Maskell (Homoptera: Margarodidae), to the conservation of endangered flora in the Galapagos islands prompted conservation groups to assess the risks associated with the introduction of its natural enemy, Rodolia cardinalis (Mulsant) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Although R. cardinalis has been widely used for controlling this exotic pest, little information was found to confirm its presumed narrow feeding range. Consequently, studies were deemed necessary to determine whether the introduction of R cardinalis would harm the island's native invertebrate fauna, in particular rare or threatened species. Using no-choice trials, we tested neonate and third instar larvae of R. cardinalis against 16 and 11 potential prey species, respectively. Adults with prior feeding experience on I. purchasi were tested against eight non-target species and naive adults (those that had not fed on I. purchasi) were tested against six. These trials included up to 35% of the Homoptera species of conservation value presumed to have the highest risk of being preyed upon by R. cardinalis. To maximize the range of species exposed to R. cardinalis, feeding trials were also carried out with some introduced species representative of groups containing potential non-target species that were not located for testing. P. cardinalis was unable to complete its life cycle on any of the test prey species and only fed on Margarodes similis Morrison (Homoptera: Margarodidae), a species closely related to the cottony cushion scale. M. similis, however, is subterranean and in its natural habitat is not at risk from foraging by R. cardinalis. Based on these trials, we believe that immature stages of R. cardinalis will have no impact on the non-target invertebrate fauna of the Galapagos islands because they specialize on Margarodidae. Although the limited nature of our testing prevents us from reaching a definitive conclusion about the prey range of R. cardinalis adults, our results indicate that it is also narrow. According to our field and laboratory studies, niche overlap with native predators of Homoptera will be minimal and intraguild predation should not occur.