Biocontrol Agents

Delphastus catalinae

General Information

For a number of years D. catalinae was sold under the name of D. pusillus as a result of confusion in its original identification1. Growers should note that there are a number of journal articles and papers from the 1990s referring to D. pusillus. The beetle used for these studies was actually D. catalinae.

Both adult and larval Delphastus feed on all stages of whitefly, particularly on the eggs and nymphs, but it avoids parasitized nymphs2. This behaviour makes it compatible with the use of parasitic wasps.


The adult beetle is a small black lady beetle, only about 1.5mm long (Figure 1). The females have a reddish brown head which distinguishes them from the males. They are active fliers and readily move throughout the greenhouse. The larvae (Figure 2) are a cream colour and elongated, with the oldest larval stage being approximately 4-5 mm long. They move slowly on the underside of leaves wherever whiteflies are present.


It is a voracious feeder, and in research with Bemisia tabaci, the adult is capable of eating more than 160 whitefly eggs/day, and the larvae almost 1000 eggs before they pupate. Females lay approximately 180 eggs during their lifetime (Figure 3). This data is based on laboratory research, but there is evidence that both feeding and egg-laying are significantly greater in a greenhouse3.


Beetles (both larvae and adults) are easily visible and can be monitored by checking the underside of leaves in whitefly infested areas (Figure 4).


1Hoelmer K.A. and Pickett C.H. 2003. Geographic origin and taxonomic history of Delphastus spp. (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) in commercial culture. Biocontrol Science and Technology, 13(5): 529-535

2Hoelmer KA, Osborne LS and Yokomi RK, Interactions of the whitefly predator Delphastus pusillus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) with parasitized sweetpotato whitefly (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Environ Entomol 23:136–139 (1994).

3Hoelmer, K.A., Osborne, L.S. and Yokomi R.K. 1993. Reproduction and feeding behaviour of Delphastus pusillus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), a predator of Bemisia tabaci (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 86(2): 322-329

4Applied Bionomics,

5Koppert Biological Systems,