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Keywords:

  • parasitoid;
  • biological control;
  • sugarcane;
  • stem borer;
  • Hymenoptera;
  • Trichogrammatidae;
  • Lepidoptera;
  • Pyralidae;
  • Crambidae

Abstract

A biological control programme using inundative releases of Trichogramma chilonis Ischii (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) reared on Galleria mellonella L. (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) is currently underway to reduce infestations of Chilo sacchariphagus Bojer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) in sugarcane, Saccharum spp., on Réunion Island. To assess the potential of the parasitoid as an inundative biocontrol agent, the functional response of three T. chilonis strains was tested with G. mellonella and one strain with C. sacchariphagus host eggs in glass tubes in the laboratory. The shape of the functional response (type II or III) was determined using logistic regression, and attack coefficients and handling times (Th) were determined using non-linear least-square regression. The behaviour of all three strains with G. mellonella host eggs corresponded to a type III response. The St Benoît T. chilonis strain had a significantly shorter estimate of Th than the St Pierre strain (P<0.05) and may, therefore, be more appropriate as a biocontrol agent. The functional response with C. sacchariphagus host eggs was a type II with the St Benoît T. chilonis strain. More T. chilonis wasps developed per host egg from the larger C. sacchariphagus host eggs (2.9) relative to G. mellonella (1.1). Superparasitism at low host egg densities was, therefore, likely to have been less frequent with C. sacchariphagus. Black eggs were chosen as an estimate of number of eggs parasitized, although they represent the number of eggs where parasitism led to complete pupal development. The low rate of detected parasitism at low host densities with G. mellonella eggs may be due to incomplete pupal development due to superparasitism rather than lack of parasitism, thus explaining the type III functional response.