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Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Pseudococcus viburni (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) = Pseudococcus affinis, Pseudococcus obscurus, obscure mealybug

Agent introduced: Acerophagus maculipennis (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) = Pseudaphycus maculipennis



Import source:


Import notes:

Charles (2001), Charles et al. (2004) - Acerophagus maculipennis was imported in 1997 into quarantine for host testing. From an initial 50 individuals, a small colony was maintained in quarantine until approval to release was given in September 2000.



Release details:

Charles et al. (2004) - from February 2001 until February 2004 approximately 750,000 A. maculipennis were released to 42 sites, which were 23 pipfruit orchards in Hawke's Bay, North Island, 15 pipfruit orchards in the Nelson/Moutere area of the South Island, 3 apple blocks in Auckland, North lsland and the Wellington Botanical Gardens in the North Island.


Charles et al. (2004) - by May 2004 A. maculipennis had been recovered from 22 of the 32 release sites sampled (12-17 months after release). They were recovered from 83% (15/18) of the release orchards in Hawke's Bay, and 60% (6/10) of the release orchards in Nelson. They had also been recovered from the Wellington Botanic Gardens. The parasitoids were recovered up to 800 m from the release sites, with a dispersal rate of 100-300 m per year.

Impacts on non-targets:

Charles (1999) - in host range tests in Australia and the Netherlands A. maculipennis only parasitised and emerged from P. viburni. Results of host range testing in New Zealand were substantially the same. A few Pseudococcus longispinus (an exotic pest in New Zealand) individuals were attacked and the parasitoid could successfully develop on this species. However, this was regarded to be an artefact of the confined conditions of the tests. All field recoveries (France and Australia) of A. maculipennis have been from P. viburni. Acerophagus maculipennis appears to be effectively monophagous on P. viburni.

General comments:

Taxonomic note (15 March 2023) - the genus Pseudaphycus Timberlake, 1916 is treated by Trjapitzin (2008) as the subjective synonym (syn. n.) of the genus Acerophagus E.A. Smith, 1880.

EPA Applications:

EPA (1999b) - 6 Apr 1999: application by Hawke's Bay Pipfruit IFP Group 20 to release from containment the insect Pseudaphycus maculipennis [subsequently Acerophagus maculipennis - see taxonomic note in 'General comments' section] for biological control of the obscure mealybug Pseudococcus viburni (Signoret 1875) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae). ERMA Application # NOR99001, approved with no controls 16 August 2000.


Charles J. (2001). Introduction of a parasitoid for mealybug biocontrol. A case study under new environmental legislation. New Zealand Plant Protection 54: 37-41

Charles JG, Allan DJ, Rogers DJ, Cole LM, Shaw PW and Wallis DR. (2004). Mass rearing, establishment and dispersal of Pseudaphycus maculipennis, a biocontrol agent for Obscure Mealybug. New Zealand Plant Protection 57: 177-182

Charles JG. (1999). Application to remove from containment Pseudaphycus maculipennis. ERMA Application # NOR99001 http://www.epa.govt.nz/Publications/NOR99001-application.pdf

EPA (1999b). Application to EPA (NOR99001)to release from containment the insect Pseudaphycus maculipennis (Mercet) (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) for biological control of the obscure mealy bug, Pseudococcus viburni (Signoret) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), a major pest of fruit crops. Environmental Protection Authority website https://www.epa.govt.nz/database-search/hsno-application-register/view/NOR99001

Trjapitzin VA (2008). A review of encyrtid wasps (Hymenoptera, Chalcidoidea, Encyrtidae) of Macaronesia. Entomological Review 88(2): 218-232