Forestry in South Africa
Tuesday, August 16, 2022

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FABI Articles : Update on releases of Selitrichodes neseri, biocontrol agent for Leptocybe invasa

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Update on releases of Selitrichodes neseri, biocontrol agent for Leptocybe invasa

Releases of Selitrichodes neseri in Eucalyptus plantations in South Africa continue, with over 4 000 female wasps released at over 200 sites to date. These releases have focused on the regions with the highest infestation of Leptocybe invasa, namely Zululand, the Lowveld and Tzaneen, although releases have also been done in other areas such as KZN Midlands and Piet Retief-Paulpietersburg.

Release sites in each region are being monitored to investigate the establishment of S. neseri. Encouragingly, S. neseri has been recovered from all but one of these sites. Currently, the primary goal is to distribute S. neseri as widely as possible in the infested areas, with the expectation that the releases will develop in to source populations of S. neseri that will grow and spread naturally. The rate of establishment of S. neseri and the impact that its establishment will have on L. invasa populations is not yet known, and we will need to monitor selected release sites carefully to better understand this.

Attached is a map from the ICFR (Ryan Nadel and Ilaria Germishuizen) that shows the distribution of releases. Please note that the map does not include all releases, as release site information is still being collected from various sites, especially in the Zululand region.

The release of S. neseri is a huge effort that requires the participation of farmers, foresters, managers, researchers and others. Thank you to the numerous people involved in the releases of S. neseri and to the team at the FABI Biocontrol Centre for the rearing of these insects.

Selitrichodes release (Red - grey)
Brett Brett Hurley (PhD)
Researcher and Senior Lecturer
Department of Zoology and Entomology
Tree Protection Cooperative Programme (TPCP)
Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI)
University of Pretoria