Release of new population of biocontrol agents to control Gonipterus 2022-02-18
A tiny egg parasitoid, Anaphes nitens, was released in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands for the control of the eucalypt snout beetle, Gonipterus sp. 2, one of the most serious pests of eucalypts in the country. This is not the first release of this parasitoid in South Africa, which was in fact first released in 1926! However, it does mark the first release since those original releases, and importantly the first release of the wasp collected from a region in Australia that is climatically similar to previous outbreak areas of Gonipterus in South Africa.
These releases form part of a collaborative effort between FABI and BiCEP (Biological Control of Eucalypt Pests), involving field collections in Australia, rearing of imported material in the FABI quarantine facility, and the eventual field release. It is not yet known whether the introduction of these wasps will increase the efficacy of biological control of Gonipterus sp. 2 in South Africa, but the establishment and role of this introduction will be evaluated over time using molecular markers being developed by Ph.D student Harmen Barten. Mr Barten is also investigating phenotypic differences, with respect to climate tolerance, between the A. nitens populations already in South Africa and the new population.