Parasitic wasp shows promise as kudzu bug biocontrol

04/30/2012 05:33:00 PM
The Grower Staff

parasitic waspCourtesy University of Georgia Paratelenomus saccharalis, a minute wasp, parasitizes kudzu bug eggs, killing them in the process.A University of Georgia researcher hopes to enlist the help of a small Asian wasp in the fight against the kudzu bug.

Entomologist John Ruberson, along with colleagues at Clemson University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, have looked at several parasitoids, one pathogen from India and one from Pakistan that are all natural enemies of the kudzu bug, according to a news release.

Although little is known about most of them, Keiji Takasu of Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, has extensive knowledge of the wasp—Paratelenomus saccharalis.

The wasp lays an egg in each kudzu bug egg.

The developing wasp larva destroys the kudzu bug egg in the process.

The wasp, about the size of a period, doesn't sting humans.

Before Ruberson releases the wasp into the field, he will test it to ensure it's safe and doesn't disrupt the ecosystem.

Ruberson and Walker Jones, with the USDA-ARS in Stoneville, Miss., have conducted buffet-like trials to determine whether native parasites like to dine on kudzu bug eggs.

So far, native parasites show no interest in the eggs, according to the new release.

In separate lab trials, Roberson offered common predators a meal of kudzu bug nymphs.

Two species of big-eyed bugs ate all the nymphs, and the remaining predaotrs ate 20 percent to 30 percent of the nymphs.

Lady beetle larvae also ate quite a few nymphs, although adult beetles weren't interested.

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