Ecological and logistical considerations toward introducing Heringia calcarata to New Zealand

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Virginia Tech


This thesis outlines research conducted as part of a collaborative project between Virginia Tech and Plant and Food Research New Zealand (PFRNZ) to introduce Heringia calcarata (Loew) (Diptera: Syrphidae) to New Zealand (NZ) for biological control of woolly apple aphid (WAA), Eriosoma lanigerum (Hausmann) (Hemiptera: Aphididae). Ultimately, the introduction of H. calcarata to New Zealand will be contingent upon satisfying regulatory requirements and concerns, including documentation that it will not have an adverse effect on the existing biological control of WAA by Aphelinus mali (Haldeman) (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae). As well, it will be critical to develop methods for sustained rearing of H. calcarata in captivity. Basic and applied studies were conducted toward providing essential information for advancing this project. Apple shoot sections with a WAA colony that did or did not contain mummified aphids parasitized by A. mali were deployed in pairs at the base of apple trees. There was no significant difference in the mean number of H. calcarata eggs deposited between shoots with parasitized (1.5 ± 0.34 SE) and non-parasitized colonies (1.75 ± 0.42 SE), although female H. calcarata laid eggs less frequently on colonies with a high percentage parasitization. In choice-test feeding studies, larvae were offered non-parasitized aphids in combination with aphids in an early stage of parasitization or mummified aphids. Larvae consumed significantly fewer aphids in an early stage of parasitization (10.8 ± 0.48 SE) than non-parasitized aphids (13.4 ± 0.42 SE) and very few mummies (0.4 ± 0.14 SE) compared with non-parasitized aphids (14.2 ± 0.4 SE). In no-choice feeding trials, larvae consumed significantly more non-parasitized aphids (25.3 ± 1.93 SE) than aphids in an early stage of parasitization (19.7 ± 1.85 SE) or mummified aphids (2.2 ± 0.71 SE) and significantly fewer mummified aphids were consumed than early parasitized aphids. WAA colonies in situ on the branches of potted apple trees were exposed to H. calcarata, A. mali, or both. Exposure to H. calcarata larvae independently and in combination with A. mali was shown to have a significant effect on the number of WAA compared with control colonies, and H. calcarata larvae did not affect the number of mummified aphids produced within colonies. Heringia calcarata eggs were collected by deploying excised apple shoot sections containing at least one WAA colony at the base of apple trees for 8-12 h. One or more eggs were laid on 29% of shoots (n = 233 shoots). On shoots with eggs, 2.4 ± 0.21 SE eggs per shoot were recorded. In 2012, four shipments of H. calcarata eggs and larvae (total of 178) were sent from Virginia to a quarantine containment facility in NZ. This demonstrated that juvenile H. calcarata could be successfully transported internationally. In total, 124 adult flies were generated in NZ, representing 69.9% of the number of eggs and larvae recovered upon delivery to quarantine. Field-collected gravid female H. calcarata oviposited on WAA colonies under captive conditions: 63% in 2011 (n = 8) and 80% in 2012 (n = 15). In 2012, 98% of the eggs deposited hatched. Virgin females reared from eggs in the laboratory developed mature oocytes regardless of access to pollen. The findings of this research offer valuable insights into the biology and ecology of H. calcarata that are directly relevant to the project goals and that will help guide the development of H. calcarata as a classical biological control agent for WAA in NZ.



Biological Control, Heringia calcarata, Eriosoma lanigerum, rearing, apple, intraguild predation