Lev Bely, 15.11.2012 22:40
Kazakhstan parasite wasps Mastrus ridens were put into New Zealand's orchards to execute a crucial mission, or simply to rid pipfruit trees of one of the most harmful pests, the codling moth Cydia pomonella.
If they get this accomplished, New Zealand will keep its status of a world's biggest apple manufacturer that uses minimum pesticides in growing apples.
1,000 Mastrus ridens wasps released into orchards characterize a new level in the longstanding fight with codling moths, which settled in these places over a century ago. C. pomonella moth that infests pipfruit trees such as apple and pear, is supposed to have been brought here from Tasmania or North America.
Plant and Food Research (part of Crown Research Institutes of New Zealand) has been working on the “Mastrus Wasp Project” the last four years. These parasitic wasps native to Kazakhstan and broadly used in the US against C. pomonella.
A female wasp attacks C. pomonella cocoon, pierces it with her ovipositor and lays eggs on the moth larva. When the wasp larvae hatch inside the cocoon, they devour the moth larva.
“We've spent the last two or three years testing it against a whole lot of other insects to make sure it only attacks codling moth and doesn't attack any of New Zealand's fauna and flora,” says John Charles, Plant and Food researcher.
Such the indirect method of pest control requires from the fruit manufacturers around $10 mln every year, but the status of the world's biggest fruit exporter turns out to be way more important to lose.
“There is zero tolerance of codling moth, particularly in some of the Asian markets,” says Mike Butcher of Pipfruit New Zealand.
So if the Hawke's Bay wasps score off the codling moth, the triumphants will be sent to save other New Zealand's regions. As Mr Charles adds, it will benefit home gardens along with commercial orchards.
Photo: Cydia pomonella
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