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Identification of seven species of hymenopteran parasitoids of Spodoptera frugiperda, using polymerase chain reaction amplification and restriction enzyme digestion

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1 The fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda is a voracious pest of numerous crops of economic importance throughout the New World. In its native Mexico, larvae can be attacked by several species of parasitic wasps, which are candidate biological control agents against this and other lepidopteran pests.

2 We attempted to survey the parasitoid fauna on S. frugiperda in maize and sorghum fields throughout Mexico. However, our efforts have been hampered by the incomplete development of parasitoid larvae emerging from collected Spodoptera caterpillars.

3 This problem was solved by developing a method to identify seven species of parasitic wasps using polymerase chain reaction amplification and restriction enzyme digestion. This enables the precise determination of the species of those parasitoid larvae that are usually not morphologically identifiable.
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