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Research Update Samurai solution for stink bug?


Asian wasp among possible biological controls being studied for BMSB and other probleminsects. By Judie Steeves


ronically, just after the devastating Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys) made its appearance in British Columbia, one of its natural enemies, the Samurai Wasp (Trissolcus japonicus) has also been discovered, in nearby Oregon.


I


The discovery of the parasitoid wasp in North America occurred outside, while inside the lab, scientists were researching whether the Asian wasp might be specific to the BMSB, or whether it could be harmful to beneficial native stink bugs here.


The discovery that it has already followed its prey to North American shores from its native Asia, means researchers will turn their attention to what harm it could cause to native insects, since it’s now out of their hands whether or not to introduce the Asian parasitic wasp here. What they learn about its potential risk to non-target native insect species will determine whether a decision is made to aid in its establishment here or to mass produce and release it to combat infestations of BMSB, says entomologist Paul Abram, who joined the Agassiz Research and Development Centre last year. BMSB was first discovered on this continent in 2001 and by 2010 estimates were that crop losses amounted to $37 million across the U.S. from the new pest. It feeds on hundreds of different plant species, from berries and tree fruits to grapes, vegetables and ornamentals. Abram is working in collaboration with scientists around the world, to try and find a biological control for these alien stink bugs, which were discovered in B.C. last year.


JUDIE STEEVES


Entomologist Paul Abram joined the Agassiz Research and Development Centre last year.


The parasitic wasp lays its eggs inside the eggs of the stink bug, then eats its way out of the egg’s shell, after destroying the egg. In its native Asia, it keeps the BMSB population in check, says Abram. However, we must be pretty careful what we import from other countries, so scientists throughout North American had been working on research to find out if it could harm native beneficial insects-when it was discovered here in the wild. With increasing global trade, there’s a natural increase in the importation of new pests — and sometimes — of predators as well, he notes.


So far, the BMSB found in B.C. have all been in urban areas rather than agricultural sites, but eventually,


they may find their way to farms where they could cause damage to a very wide range of crops, including tree fruits.


The stink bug is known as a hitchhiker that often arrives in a new location in packing crates or plants, or on vehicles.


There is concern that the Samurai Wasp might also be predatory on the Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris), which is a native beneficial insect that preys on the larval stage of many beetles and moths, some of which are harmful to crops.


Abram points out that while it seems like good news that a predator has followed the stink bug here, it’s always possible it will not be able to tolerate this climate.


British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Fall-Winter 2017 17


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