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Temperature Affects Biological Control Efficacy: A Microcosm Study of Trichogramma achaeae

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Current quality control of mass-reared biological control agents (BCAs) is usually performed in the laboratory and often fails to include behavioural aspects of the BCAs. As a result, the use of efficacy measurements determined solely under laboratory conditions to predict field efficacy can be questioned. In this study, microcosms were designed to estimate biological control efficacy (realised parasitisation efficiency) of Trichogramma achaeae Nagaraja and Nagarkatti (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) parasitising Ephestia kuehniella Zeller (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) eggs across the operational temperature range (15–30 °C). Temperature greatly affected the success of females in finding and parasitising E. kuehniella eggs, with parasitisation being reduced at 15 and 20 °C, as both the percentage of parasitised host eggs and the percentage of leaves per plant with parasitised host eggs decreased sharply compared with higher temperatures. Graphing previous data on laboratory fecundity against parasitisation efficiency shows that the laboratory-measured fecundity of T. achaeae was unlikely to predict field efficacy across temperatures. Results also showed that leaf side had no effect on the preference of T. achaeae in parasitising E. kuehniella eggs; however, T. achaeae preferred to lay their eggs on the top tier of plants. These findings suggest that more complex assays, which include behavioural responses, might be developed for optimised quality control of BCAs intended for field application.

Original languageEnglish
Article number95
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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