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New Zealand Plant Protection 63 (2010): 283

Farmer response to mini-release strategy for the clover root weevil biocontrol agent

P.J. Gerard, D.J. Wilson and T.M. Eden

ABSTRACT

The Irish wasp Microctonus aethiopoides was released in 2006 as a biocontrol agent for the clover root weevil, Sitona lepidus, a serious pest of white clover in New Zealand. Following the successful and very rapid establishment of the Irish wasp, there was high demand by farmers for the biocontrol. Around 2000 mini-release samples were distributed directly to farmers through pastoral industry networks and field days. These consisted of ten field-collected weevils exposed to the wasp in the laboratory at parasitism rates such that over 99% of samples contained parasitoids. A random subsample of 100 recipient dairy farmers was surveyed subsequently by post with 59 responses. The mini-releases were well received, most going to farmers that had previously experienced losses due to the weevil. The mini- releases were very effective in terms of getting the biocontrol to farms with 92% of insects arriving in good condition and 96% being released on the same day. The farmers appeared receptive of the information provided with the samples, indicating the project was successful in terms of technology transfer. There was good recognition of DairyNZ, with 79% showing awareness of the organisation's funding enabling the biocontrol research.

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