Establishment of Laricobius nigrinus (Coleoptera: Derodontidae) in Virginia and assessment of its impact on hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae (Hemiptera: Adelgidae), throughout the eastern U.S.
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Management of hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), Adelges tsugae (Hemiptera: Adelgidae), is currently being implemented through several different methods including the release of host-specific predators such as Laricobius nigrinus Fender (Coleoptera: Derodontidae). Releases of this predator began in 2003. In 2014, an assessment of the efficacy of L. nigrinus at release sites from New Jersey to Georgia. Field sites were chosen based on the presence of moderate to high densities of HWA, that L. nigrinus was released at least four years prior to the start of the study, and that the predator was determined to be established at that site. Three treatments were set up at each of the sites: no cage, closed exclusion cage, and open cage. Three assessments were taken during key points throughout the season in order to monitor both HWA and L. nigrinus populations. Larval predator were recovered from most of the sites in year one and in higher numbers in year two. Many sites at which L. nigrinus were recovered showed high predation rates of HWA in uncaged samples ranging from 1.5 to 47.3% in year one and 0 to 66% in year 2. A survey for L. nigrinus establishment at previous release sites in VA was conducted. These sites date back as far as 2003 and as recently as 2015. Beat sheeting and branch clippings were conducted to recover Laricobius spp. adults and larvae, respectively. The recovered insects were then identified to species through genetic analysis. A mix of the introduced L. nigrinus and the native L. rubidus LeConte (Coleoptera: Derodontidae) were recovered at some sites, and only L. rubidus were recovered from others. Higher numbers of Laricobius were recovered in spring of year two. Overall, tree health in Virginia decreased from spring 2015 to 2016.
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