Native range assessment of classical biological control agents: impact of inundative releases as pre-introduction evaluation.

Jenner, W.H., Mason, P.G., Cappuccino, N., and Kuhlmann, U. (2010). "Native range assessment of classical biological control agents: impact of inundative releases as pre-introduction evaluation.", Bulletin of Entomological Research, 100(4), pp. 387-394. doi : 10.1017/S0007485309990368  Access to full text

Abstract

Diadromus pulchellus Wesmael (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) is a pupal parasitoid under consideration for introduction into Canada for the control of the invasive leek moth, Acrolepiopsis assectella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Acrolepiidae). Since study of the parasitoid outside of quarantine was not permitted in Canada at the time of this project, we assessed its efficacy via field trials in its native range in central Europe. This was done by simulating introductory releases that would eventually take place in Canada when a permit for release is obtained. In 2007 and 2008, experimental leek plots were artificially infested with pest larvae to mimic the higher pest densities common in Canada. Based on a preliminary experiment showing that leek moth pupae were suitable for parasitism up to 5-6 days after pupation, D. pulchellus adults were mass-released into the field plots when the first host cocoons were observed. The laboratory-reared agents reproduced successfully in all trials and radically reduced leek moth survival. Taking into account background parasitism caused by naturally occurring D. pulchellus, the released agents parasitized at least 15.8%, 43.9%, 48.1% and 58.8% of the available hosts in the four release trials. When this significant contribution to leek moth mortality is added to previously published life tables, in which pupal parasitism was absent, the total pupal mortality increases from 60.1% to 76.7%. This study demonstrates how field trials involving environmental manipulation in an agent's native range can yield predictions of the agent's field efficacy once introduced into a novel area.

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