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The effects of floral understoreys on parasitism of leafrollers (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) on apples in New Zealand

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• Field and laboratory experiments on the conservation biocontrol of lepidopteran leafroller pests were carried out in apples at Lincoln, New Zealand.

• Apple understoreys were planted with replicated treatments of alyssum (Lobularia maritima), phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) and buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum).

• Rates of parasitism of experimentally released larvae of the light-brown apple moth, Epiphyas postvittana (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae), by Dolichogenidea tasmanica (Cameron) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) were significantly lower in phacelia and control treatments, and leafroller pupae were significantly more abundant in controls than in buckwheat and alyssum treatments.

• Naturally occurring leafroller damage was up to 29% lower above all the floral understorey treatments compared with controls and there were more than twice as many D. tasmanica cocoons in the alyssum and buckwheat treatments than in controls.

• Suction sampling of the understoreys gave D. tasmanica adult densities that were significantly more abundant in alyssum compared with other treatments. Numbers of Anacharis zealandica (Hymenoptera: Figitidae) (a parasitoid of larvae of the predatory brown lacewing) did not differ between treatments.

• In the laboratory, flowering buckwheat and alyssum enhanced D. tasmanica longevity by up to 78% compared with the control, and buckwheat also enhanced potential fecundity by 62%.

• In choice experiments, leafroller larvae in the laboratory consumed more than three-fold more apple leaf material than they did of the three understorey species, although alyssum increased leafroller fecundity and longevity.

• The use of floral understoreys for conservation biocontrol of apple pests is discussed, along with the potential negative effects of some flowering species on pest populations and orchard agronomic practices.

Keywords: Alyssum; Dolichogenidea; Tortricidae; buckwheat; conservation biocontrol; fecundity; leafroller; longevity; phacelia; understorey management

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2006


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