This investment is delivering the knowledge needed to evaluate the use of parasitoid wasps as a potential strategy for fruit fly management. The use of natural enemies such as parasitoids against insect pests is regarded as a core component in sustainable pest control and will provide horticulture industries with another method to use for fruit fly management.
This research is being conducted through two complementary components – firstly by improving current knowledge of fruit fly parasitoid distribution in Queensland and northern New South Wales, and secondly by trialling a new mass rearing and release strategy for the southern states.
Parasitoid distribution is being studied by collating and analysing existing data, as well as through a targeted survey and a detailed review of the scientific literature on fruit fly parasitoids. The resulting information will enable prioritisation of fruit fly parasitoids for future research and identify new RD&E required to rapidly integrate parasitoids into the fruit fly management toolkit.
Mass rearing and release will ultimately be trialed in fruit orchards and urban/peri-urban areas of Victoria. Working alongside the distribution component, wild fruit fly parasitoids will be collected for culturing and a mass-rearing protocol developed for two parasitoid species. Research will focus on optimising parasitism rates in culture, adult wasp fitness and longevity and ensuring good survival on delivery to release sites. Release trials are expected to be conducted during the 2020/2021 season.