Supported by NSF-DEB 97-28626
Species of Aphytis are among the most important parasitoids of armored scale insects (Homoptera: Diaspididae). Many of the species used in classical and augmentative biological control programs around the world, including type and important voucher material, are represented in collections of the University of California, Riverside (UCR). Because of their minute size, these wasps are generally ignored by collectors and are not accumulated in most insect collections. The UCR collection includes ca. 30,000 specimens of Aphytis mounted on ca. 5,000 slides. The majority of these specimens (28,224) are mounted in a temporary, water soluble medium (Hoyer's) on 4,380 slides. A significant number of these mounts are now in various stages of decay. Many specimens, including numerous type specimens, have already been damaged. Support is urgently needed to protect the collection by transferring a significant portion to Canada balsam, a permanent medium better suited for preserving specimens in taxonomically significant collections of micro-Hymenoptera. Specimens also must be mounted individually and properly labeled. Currently, the majority of the material is mounted with an average of 6.67 specimens per slide, sometimes with more than one species per slide, and labeled very poorly. The UCR collection of Aphytis formed the basis for a world taxonomic revision of the genus by David Rosen and Paul DeBach in 1979. The monograph was based almost entirely on the UCR collection of Aphytis, and because of this, it is an invaluable resource for basic and applied scientists. The UCR collection of Aphytis is almost entirely comprised of reared and slide-mounted specimens collected from 74 different countries and territories over the last 70 years. The magnitude and scope of the collection make it irreplaceable. Its revitalization will stabilize the existing collection and hopefully stimulate additional taxonomic studies of this important genus.