The potato tuber moth Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is a major agricultural pest of solaneceous crops in warm countries worldwide. The encyrtid polyembryonic parasitoid Copidosoma koehleri (Blanchard) has been successfully introduced for biological control of the moth in potato fields in South Africa and Australia; however, augmentative releases of the parasitoid in trial plots and in commercial potato fields in Israel did not reduce pest populations or infestation levels more than chemical treatment. Copidosoma koehleri accounted for 4-5% of parasitism on tuber moth caterpillars, while most parasitism was due to local species of larval parasitoids. The abundance and composition of local parasitoids did not differ between C. koehleri release plots and conventionally treated control plots. These findings can be interpreted as failure of the introduced parasitoids to survive and locate their hosts, or as mortality of C. koehleri within hosts in the field. Sentinel hosts, placed in trial plots and collected after 24 h, were rarely parasitised by C. koehleri, supporting the first interpretation. To test the second hypothesis, hosts parasitised by C. koehleri were placed in field plots for a week, collected, and reared out in the laboratory. The emergence rates of C. koehleri from these hosts resembled those of lab-reared controls, suggesting that mortality within hosts in the field is not a major cause of C. koehleri's poor biocontrol performance.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research was supported by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Wolf Koslitski (Israeli Plant Protection Service) identified the local parasitoids. Michal Segoli and Moshe Coll commented on the manuscript. We thank Ori Becher, Tanya Vilivchyuk, Udi Ron and Karen Dray for technical assistance.
- Augmentative biocontrol
- Copidosoma koehleri (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae)
- Local natural enemies
- Phthorimaea opeculella (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae)
- Potato field
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Insect Science