Field-cage methodology for evaluating climatic suitability for introduced wood-borer parasitoids: preliminary results from the emerald ash borer system
Field-cage methods were developed to evaluate the abilities of Tetrastichus planipennisi Yang (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) and Spathius agrili Yang (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), biocontrol agents of Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), to parasitize, develop and overwinter following three late-season releases at both a northern (Michigan) and a southern (Maryland) location within the current North American range of A. planipennis. In August, September and October of 2009, five young green ash trees were selected at each location. Tetrastichus planipennisi and S. agrili were each randomly assigned to one of two cages attached to each tree, surrounding separate sections of trunk in which late-instar A. planipennis had been inserted. The following April, the caged trunk sections were dissected to determine the fate of each A. planipennis larva and the developmental stages of all recovered parasitoid progeny. At both locations, T. planipennisi and S. agrili were able to parasitize hosts and successfully overwinter (i.e., reach adulthood the following spring). For T. planipennisi, successful parasitism (i.e., parasitoid progeny reached adulthood) occurred for all caged releases in Maryland, but only for the August and September releases in Michigan. At both locations, percent parasitism by T. planipennisi was higher in August and September than in October. For S. agrili, successful parasitism occurred for all caged releases in Maryland, but only for the August release in Michigan. In Maryland, percent parasitism by S. agrili in August and September was higher than in October. The caging method described here should be useful in determining the climatic suitability of other regions before proceeding with large-scale releases of either species and may have utility in other wood-borer parasitoid systems as well.