Parasitism and dispersal potential of Sirex noctilio: implications for biological control
1 Sirex noctilio F. (Hymenoptera: Siricidae) is a wood-boring wasp that attacks many pine species, including commercial trees planted throughout the world. Management of its populations is largely based on biological control using the nematode Beddingia siricidicola. Adult females are sterilized by the nematode, but are free to move and attack new trees, promoting nematode dispersal. Although generally successful, wasp management through nematode introductions has sometimes been inadequate.
2 We evaluated the effect of parasitism by B. siricidicola on flight performance of woodwasps under laboratory conditions. Using flight mills, we recorded a total of 46 flight trials over 23 h, obtained from infected and control (uninfected) females.
3 Although all wasps lost weight during flight, parasitized females were significantly smaller and suffered larger weight losses than uninfected females. In addition, total flight distance and velocity were lower in parasitized females.
4 Because nematode infection transmission relies on healthy wasps attacking trees previously visited by nematode-bearing females, differential dispersal capacity could limit biological control success.