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Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Chrysodeixis eriosoma (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), green looper or silver Y moth

Agent introduced: Cotesia ruficrus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) = Apanteles ruficrus



Import source:

Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Import notes:

Cumber et al. (1977) - strains of Cotesia ruficrus [as Apanteles ruficrus] were supplied from Pakistan in 1971 by the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control at Rawalpindi. These strains were different from the strain already present in New Zealand [see the Cumber et al. (1977)/Cameron et al. (1989) entry in the ‘General comments’ section]. Field-collected larvae of Agrotis spp. were held in Pakistan until the emerging parasitoid larvae had spun cocoons, which were air-freighted to New Zealand. During April and May some 950 individual cocoons from 20 clusters were received. These produced approximately 500 adults. The culture was reared in New Zealand on Agrotis ipsilon prior to releases.



Release details:

Cumber et al. (1977) - approximately 4,000 mass-parasitised larvae were distributed at 10 sites in Northland and in the north of the Auckland region in October-November 1971. However, most parasitoids were released as adults after an opportunity to feed and mate. Approximately 40,000 adults were released between December 1971 and March 1972 at 108 sites; four sites were in Nelson in the South Island, the rest were in the northern North Island (Northland, Auckland, Coromandel and the northern part of Waikato).


Cumber et al. (1977) - sampling of maize in the Helensville-Riverhead districts of the Auckland region during January to March 1973 showed that parasitism of M. separata larvae by C. ruficrus was sometimes greater than 80%. During the following winter, samples of larvae from roadside herbage also showed a high percentage of parasitism. The parasitoid became common on maize in the northern North Island in 1973, being found up to 50km from the nearest release sites. Surveys in 1974-75 showed that C. ruficrus had become established throughout the North Island.

Cameron et al. (1989) - following release of the Pakistan strain/s, C. ruficrus established immediately on Mythimna separata and was recovered in a survey of noctuid larvae in 1975-76 from Agrotis ipsilon and C. eriosoma.

Impacts on target:

Cameron et al. (1989) - considerable variation in rates of parasitism of C. eriosoma by C. ruficrus have been recorded. A 1975-76 survey found C. ruficrus parasitising 7-10% of all C. eriosoma larvae, with 40% parasitism in one maize field where Mythimna separata [another target pest for C. ruficrus] was present, suggesting the high rate of parasitism of C. eriosoma may have been attributable to the abundance of C. ruficrus parasitising M. separata. A 1976-82 survey of C. eriosoma parasitoids, mostly in Auckland gardens, found only 0.2% parasitism by C. ruficrus. In two more recent studies, parasitism rates of 21-27% and 29% have been recorded on soybeans in South Auckland.

Impacts on non-targets:

Cameron et al. (1993) - Cotesia ruficrus was reared on four cosmopolitan noctuid pest species as well as the native noctuid pest species, Graphania mutans. This is an example of a biocontrol programme where acceptance of native species as hosts was considered to be advantageous to the potential establishment and success of the agent.

General comments:

Cumber et al. (1977), Cameron et al. (1989) - a strain of Cotesia ruficrus was already present in New Zealand, and known to parasitise Mythimna separata, prior to the introduction of the Pakistan strain/s of C. ruficrus. [Cumber et al. (1977) say that the resident strain of C. ruficrus had “established fortuitously in New Zealand”, while Cameron et al. (1989) call it “an indigenous strain”.]


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.

Cameron PJ, Hill RL, Bain J, Thomas WP (1993). Analysis of importations for biological control of insect pests and weeds in New Zealand. Biocontrol Science and Technology 3(4): 387-404

Cumber RA, Allan DJ, Helmore L (1977). Introduction and successful establishment in New Zealand of further strains of Apanteles ruficrus Haliday (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) to combat Pseudaletia (Mythimna) separata (Walk.) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 20(2): 255-258