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New Zealand Plant Protection 64 (2011): 282

Release of a new biological control agent, Cotesia urabae, against Uraba lugens in New Zealand

G. Avila and L.A. Berndt

ABSTRACT

In July 2010, the Environmental Risk Management Authority New Zealand gave approval to Scion to release the parasitoid Cotesia urabae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) as a biological control agent for the gum leaf skeletonizer, Uraba lugens (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), in New Zealand as part of a project supported by the Sustainable Farming Fund. To date four releases of the biological control agent have been made, three at the Auckland Domain and one at the Manukau Memorial Gardens. Further releases will be made to ensure establishment. Three C. urabae cocoons were found 1 month after the first release, suggesting initial establishment. Monitoring is continuing to determine if the population persists. It is predicted that the introduction of C. urabae into New Zealand will (1) lead to a decrease in the existing population of U. lugens, (2) have no impacts on non-target species, and (3) provide socio-economic benefits, such as reducing the number of encounters between humans and caterpillars (and therefore decreasing the incidence of allergic responses) and reducing the substantial costs associated with maintaining the utility of eucalypts for wood and pulp production and the costs of protecting or replacing amenity trees.

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