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Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Dasineura mali (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae), apple leafcurling midge

Agent introduced: Platygaster demades (Hymenoptera: Platygastridae)



Import source:

France (1925-26), England (1926)

Import notes:

Cameron et al. (1989) - no biocontrol agents have been imported for D. mali, but P. demades, imported against Dasineura pyri (pear leafcurling midge), has also parasitised D. mali in New Zealand. In 1925 three consignments were sent from France (the second collected near Paris; the localities were unspecified for the other consignments) of material potentially containing D. pyri parasitoids. The first shipment was of Contarinia pyrivora (pear midge)-infested pear fruit; no parasitoids emerged. The second shipment consisted of D. pyri-infested leaves from which the parasitoids Platygaster demades (identified at the time as Platygaster sp.), Torymus chloromerus and Isostemma boscii had been reared. Forty-one female and 21 male P. demades emerged; some were released in the field and others into an insectary at Henderson, Auckland containing D. pyri. The third shipment was a small amount of pear material infested by ‘midges’. Five female and three male P. demades emerged and were released into the Henderson insectary. In 1926, five consignments of parasitised D. pyri were sent to New Zealand; one from England, three from France and one originating from both countries. Dasineura pyri emerged in greater (but unspecified) numbers from these importations than from the 1925 importations. It was reported that the 1926 material was used to ensure establishment of D. pyri so presumably much of it was released from late-1926 to early-1927.



Release details:

Cameron et al. (1989) - Platygaster demades was released specifically against Dasineura pyri (pear leafcurling midge) rather than D. mali. Fifteen female and six male P. demades from the second 1925 importation [see Cameron et al. (1989) entry in ‘Import notes’ section] were released into an orchard in Henderson, Auckland in the North Island. Releases from the 1926 importations were not documented, but it was reported this material was used to achieve establishment on a sufficiently large scale, so presumably much of it was released from late-1926 to early-1927. In spring 1926, three female and one male P. demades were released in an orchard in Stoke, Nelson in the South Island. In December 1927, midge-infested foliage was distributed to various growers.


Cameron et al. (1989) - in the autumn of 1927, P. demades was recovered from Dasineura pyri (pear leafcurling midge) in Henderson, Auckland orchards where they had been released earlier in the season, presumably as adults from the 1926 importations. It successfully overwintered in 1927 and in spring 1927 a decided increase in the parasitoids in the field was noted. Fifteen months after the spring 1926 release at Stoke, Nelson, the species was found to be present there in D. pyri, and was considered well established at Henderson and Stoke by the end of 1927. In the year following the December 1927 distribution of midge-infested foliage to various growers, the orchards which had received the material were surveyed. Recoveries were made in several orchards in Auckland but nowhere else, and levels of parasitism were low. It was recovered in D. mali in Palmerston North (Manawatu region, North Island) in 1954. Platygaster demades has now been established in New Zealand for half a century and has been reported from all apple- and pear-growing regions.

Impacts on target:

Cameron et al. (1989) - Platygaster demades was released as a biocontrol agent for Dasineura pyri (pear leafcurling midge), but was found parasitising D. mali in a Palmerston North, North Island orchard in 1954 at rates between 27% and 66%. A subsequent study over three seasons at Palmerston North, reported in 1959, showed that despite the presence of P. demades, generally at high levels of parasitism, D. mali populations continued to reach damaging levels. The parasitoid was almost entirely absent when the second generation of D. mali began, indicating that P. demades generations were not synchronised with those of D. mali. Platygaster demades was also reported, in 1975, parasitising D. mali in Nelson, South Island, but again, D. mali continued to cause considerable damage, despite the presence of the parasitoid over many years.

He and Wang (2011) - the parasitism rate of D. mali by P. demades in the field significantly increases as the season progresses from about 50% in the first generation to more than 85% in the fourth generation in New Zealand.

He and Wang (2014) - the density-dependent parasitism in the lower host density range (50-300 D. mali eggs per apple shoot) suggests that P. demades is highly efficient in controlling D. mali populations of the first, third and fourth generations which fall into the above host density range and when necessary, argumentation measures may be taken before the onset of the second generation.


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.

He XZ and Wang Q (2011). Phenological dynamics of Dasineura mali Kieffer (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) and its parasitoid Platygaster demades Walker (Hymenoptera: Platygasteridae) in apple orchards. Journal of Economic Entomology 104: 1640-1646 https://doi.org/10.1603/EC11090

He XZ and Wang Q (2014). Demographic dynamics of Platygaster demades in response to host density. Biological Control 72: 46-53 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2014.02.008