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Biocontrol introduction

Target pests:

Agent introduced: Sphecophaga orientalis (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae)


1994, 1996, 1997

Import source:


Import notes:

Donovan et al. (2002) - there have been three importations of S. orientalis, all from Israel, into quarantine at Lincoln, Canterbury. Importation No.1, March 1994: 1 piece of worker comb of the oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis), but seized at the border and fumigated, killing all parasitoids. Importation No.2, December 1996: 1 adult female parasitoid, 2 pieces of worker comb and 4 pieces of queen comb of oriental hornet. Importation No.3, December 1997: 96 yellow (overwintering) cocoons (which produced fully-winged adults) of S. orientalis.



Release details:

Donovan et al. (2002) - from Importation No.2: 27-28 February 1997: near Murchison, Buller, 20 V. vulgaris nests were each inoculated with a piece of V. vulgaris comb containing an estimated 100+ immature parastoids. Some nests also received up to 20 adult female parasitoids. 28 April 1997: Palmerston North, three V. vulgaris nests and one V. germanica nest were each inoculated with a piece of infested V. vulgaris comb. From Importation No.3: March/April 1998, Okuti Valley, Banks Peninsula, Mid-Canterbury, two V. germanica nests were each inoculated with a piece of infested V. germanica comb containing 100+ immature parasitoids and four V. vulgaris nests similarly inoculated with a piece of V. vulgaris comb; 2 V. germanica nests at Christchurch and Lincoln, Canterbury, received four and 20 females respectively plus infested V. germanica comb; at Palmerston North three V. germanica nests were inoculated (two with infested V. germanica comb, one with 11 females) and one V. vulgaris nest inoculated with 40 females.


Donovan et al. (2002) - whether S. orientalis has established is unknown. In late autumn of the year releases were made, all inoculated nests were dissected for presence of parasitoid cocoons. Four of eight V. germanica and none of 28 V. vulgaris had been attacked. Yellow overwintering cocoons were present in the V. germanica nests. Results suggest S. orientalis has the potential to establish as an enemy of V. germanica, but will not be able to parasitise large nests of V. vulgaris, though they may be able to parasitise early season V. vulgaris nests when no or few workers are present.

Bob Brown (Landcare Research) (2018 - pers. comm.) - Sphecophaga orientalis has never been recovered in the field in New Zealand despite the many releases.

Impacts on non-targets:

Donovan et al. (2002) - pre-release host range tests (January 1997) against the lucerne leafcutting bee Megachile rotundata, the Italian honey bee Apis mellifera ligustica and the long-tongued bumble bee Bombus hortorum showed no evidence of parasitoid attack against any of these species.


Donovan BJ, Havron A, Leathwick DM and JS. (2002). Release of Sphecophaga orientalis (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae) in New Zealand as a possible 'new association' biocontrol agent for the adventive social wasps Vespula germanica (F.) and Vespula vulgaris (L.) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Vespinae). New Zealand Entomologist 25: 17-25 https://doi.org/10.1080/00779962.2002.9722090