Experimental assessment of the biosafety of Trissolcus japonicus in New Zealand, prior to the anticipated arrival of the invasive pest Halyomorpha halys


Despite numerous interceptions at the border, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys Stål (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae), is not yet established in New Zealand. Nevertheless, a classical biocontrol programme using the egg parasitoid Trissolcus japonicus Ashmead (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae) has been initiated in anticipation of its likely arrival. The potential host range of the parasitoid in New Zealand was investigated by importing parasitised BMSB eggs into quarantine from Newark, DE, USA. Egg masses of seven species of Pentatomidae, including one sub-species, were individually exposed to naïve mated female T. japonicus in no-choice laboratory experiments. The results showed that predatory Cermatulus nasalis nasalis, C. nasalis hudsoni and Oechalia schellenbergii, and the phytophagous Monteithiella humeralis, Dictyotus caenosus, Glaucias amyoti, and Cuspicona simplex are all within the physiological host range of T. japonicus, although not all appeared to be equally susceptible to parasitism. No development or emergence of T. japonicus from eggs of the cosmopolitan pentatomid plant pest Nezara viridula were observed. The likely ecological consequences of releasing T. japonicus in New Zealand are discussed, as is the subsequent decision of New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority to approve release of the parasitoid once BMSB arrives in New Zealand.

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We wish to thank Dr Barbara Barratt (AgResearch), Dr Mark Hoddle (University of California, Riverside), Dr Cathy McKenna (Plant and Food Research), Dr David Teulon (Plant and Food Research), Graham Walker (Plant and Food Research) and Libby Burgess (Plant and Food Research) for their useful comments on draft versions of this manuscript. We thank Mark Wohlers (Plant and Food Research) for assistance in statistical analysis, and Dr N. A. Martin for collecting Pentatomidae from which laboratory cultures were initiated. We also thank Brian Patrick (Wildlands Consultants Ltd), and the AgResearch Invermay team for their efforts in support of this work. This work was funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Science and Innovation, the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) ( research collaboration and The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited Strategic Science Investment Fund. Support for maintenance of T. japonicus cultures in the USA was provided to K. Hoelmer by USDA NIFA SCRI Grant 2011-51181-30937.

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Correspondence to G. A. Avila.

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Charles, J.G., Avila, G.A., Hoelmer, K.A. et al. Experimental assessment of the biosafety of Trissolcus japonicus in New Zealand, prior to the anticipated arrival of the invasive pest Halyomorpha halys. BioControl 64, 367–379 (2019) doi:10.1007/s10526-019-09949-x

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  • Fundamental host range
  • Host specificity
  • No-choice test
  • Non-target impacts
  • Risk assessment
  • Proactive biocontrol