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Research Project: Collection, Release and Establishment of Peristenus Digoneutis, a European Lygus Bug Parasitoid, on the California Central Coast

Location: European Biological Control Laboratory

Project Number: 0212-22000-027-09-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 1, 2013
End Date: Jan 31, 2018

The goal of this project is to establish a population of a native European natural enemy of lygus bugs, Peristenus digoneutis, that is best-suited to the strawberry-growing regions of central California. If this goal is realized, we expect strawberry growers to benefit from improved control of lygus bugs through this additional source of parasitism. This can be achieved in at least two ways: 1) by reducing pest populations in natural landscapes so that fewer lygus bugs enter strawberry fields and 2) by eliminating pests after they become established in a strawberry field.

During 2012, European lygus bugs will be collected in northern France and reared at the EBCL. Peristenus spp. will be separated and allowed to overwinter. Shipments of the natural enemy will be made to quarantine stateside where they will emerge in spring 2013. A colony of P. digoneutis will be established at the NJDA New Jersey in collaboration with USDA ARS BIIR. Shipments will then be made to California, where these wasps will be released into alfalfa at commercial ranches in mid-summer. Collections will be made during the fall to identify the extent of parasitism. Collected lygus bug nymphs will be reared by cooperators at UC Santa Cruz. If continued funding is provided, additional releases will be made in 2014 at these strawberry ranches. Nymphs will be collected and reared during the spring, summer and fall to verify P. digoneutis colonization and distinguish source of parasitism (P. relictus vs. P. digoneutis).