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Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Phthorimaea operculella (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), potato tuber moth

Agent introduced: Copidosoma koehleri (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae)


1949? [probably C. desantisi - see Cameron et al. (1989) entry in 'Import notes' section], 1964, 1966, 1966-67, 1968, 1969-70

Import source:

North America via Australia (1949 [but this was probably C. desantisi - see Cameron et al. (1989) entry in 'Import notes' section]), Northern Argentina and southern Brazil via USA (1964), Northern Argentina and southern Brazil via India (1966-70)

Import notes:

Cameron et al. (1989) - in March 1949 a permit was obtained to import one shipment of several P. opercullela parasitoids, including C. koehleri, from Australia, for release after laboratory emergence of adults. The numbers imported were not recorded. However, in 1946, Australia had imported Copidosoma desantisi and not C. koehleri, so it is likely that this was the species introduced to New Zealand and released. In July 1964, three shipments of C. koehleri in host larvae were imported from the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control station at Fontana, California, USA to Nelson, New Zealand. The first shipment contained approximately 2,500 individuals, the second and third approximately 3,000 each. All shipments arrived in good condition, but the fate of the imported individuals was not recorded. Between January and March 1966 and between November 1966 and March 1967 there were a total of eight shipments of C. koehleri from the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control station in India to Nelson; most were directly released although a few were retained at Lincoln, Canterbury for laboratory culture. There were further importations of C. koehleri from CIBC, India to Nelson in January 1968 (2 shipments) and between November 1969 and April 1970 (7 shipments). All individuals imported in 1968 were released; most of the 1969-70 individuals were released, but a small number were retained at Nelson for laboratory culture. A limited number were bred and a few released there before the laboratory host population became infected with a granulosis virus and the rearing programme was terminated. The material imported from Australia in 1949 (most likely C. desantisi and not C. koehleri) had originally been sourced from North America. Subsequently-imported C. koehleri material had been originally sourced from northern Argentina and southern Brazil in 1963-64 and cultured at the Californian Station of CIBC, from where the 1964 shipments were made to New Zealand; when this station closed, the colony was transferred to the Indian Station of CIBC, from where the 1966-70 shipments were made to New Zealand.


1949? (this was probably C. desantisi), 1964?, 1966 (first definitive record of release) [see Cameron et al. (1989) entry in 'Release details' section for details]

Release details:

Cameron et al. (1989) - unknown numbers of adults from the material imported in 1949 were released at Nelson, but this was likely C. desantisi and not C. koehleri [see Cameron et al. (1989) entry in ‘Import notes’ section]. Records do not indicate if releases were made from the 1964 importations. Approximate numbers released from the 1966-67 importations were 169,000 at Lincoln, Canterbury and Oamaru, North Otago, South Island (specific numbers at each site was not clear in the records), 12,000 at Nelson, South Island and 18,500 at Palmerston North, North Island. Approximate numbers released from the 1968 importations were 254,000 at Lincoln/Oamaru. Approximate numbers released from the 1969-70 importations were 150 at Lincoln/Oamaru and 1,345 at Nelson.


Cameron et al. (1989) - sporadic examination of potato tubers and foliage at Oamaru, North Otago and Lincoln, Canterbury for P. opercullela parasitoids was undertaken between mid-1967 and late-1973; there are no records of C. koehleri being detected. The C. koehleri released at Nelson in 1969-70 were known to have bred in the field for at least one generation that season, but a subsequent survey showed it had not established there on P. opercullela. No surveys of potato foliage for parasitised P. operculella have been carried out at the North Island and tubers only examined in the North Island at Pukekohe, Auckland (where C. koehleri was not released, and not found).

General comments:

Taxonomic note (7 December 2022) - Annecke & Mynhardt (1974) note that the Argentinian and Uruguayan species Copidosoma koehleri has been repeatedly misidentified, and describe C. desantisi for the misidentified species that originated in Chile. Annecke & Mynhardt (1974) also synonymise C. uruguayensis with C. koehleri; however, Japoshvili et al. (2016) state that C. uruguayensis was erroneously synonymised with C. koehleri and revive C. uruguayensis as a valid species.


Annecke DP, Mynhardt MJ (1974). On the identity of Copidosoma koehleri Blanchard, 1940 (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae). Journal of the Entomological Society of South Africa 37(1): 31-33 https://hdl.handle.net/10520/AJA00128789_2834

Cameron PJ, Hill RL, Bain J, Thomas WP (1989). A Review of Biological Control of Invertebrate Pests and Weeds in New Zealand 1874-1987. Technical Communication No 10. CAB International Institute of Biological Control. DSIR Entomology Division. 424p.

Japoshvili, G, Higashiura Y, Kamitani S (2016). A review of Japanese Encyrtidae (Hymenoptera), with descriptions of new species, new records and comments on the types described by Japanese authors. Acta Entomologica Musei Nationalis Pragae 56(1): 345-401 http://zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:D7B9D474-65C3-4358-8057-DD672465241B