Novel Monitoring and Biological Control of Invasive Insect Pests [article]

Malek Robert Nehme
of The Dissertation Invasive species are alien to the ecosystem under consideration and cause economic or environmental damage or harm to human health. Two alien insects that fit this description are the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys and the spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula. Both invaders are polyphagous pests that feed on a myriad of plant species and inflict severe crop losses. As sustainable control methods depend on the accurate monitoring of species' invasion and
more » ... ' invasion and involve the use of natural enemies, we addressed these two facets by exploring novel monitoring techniques and deciphering host-parasitoid interactions for improved integrated pest management. Thus, we adopted 'BugMap', a citizen science initiative that enables students, farmers and everyday citizens to report sightings of H. halys from Italy, with emphasis on Trentino-Alto Adige. Aside from fostering citizen participation in scientific endeavors and the enhanced literacy that ensues, BugMap helped uncover the invasion dynamics of H. halys and forecast its potential distribution in Trentino, all while coordinating technical monitoring and informing management strategies. The most promising agent currently under study for the classical biological control of H. halys is the Asian egg parasitoid Trissolcus japonicus. To assess the wasp's potential non-target impacts, we investigated its foraging behavior in response to chemical traces 'footprints' deposited by its main host H. halys and by a suboptimal predatory species, the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris. Wasps exhibited a 'motivated searching' when in contact with footprints originating from both species. However, T. japonicus arrestment was significantly stronger in response to H. halys footprints, compared with P. maculiventris, implying the presence of underlying chemical cues that shape its natural preferences. A series of GC-MS chemical analyses revealed that n-tridecane and (E)-2-decenal were more abundant in H. halys footprints and are probably the key components utilized by the wasp for short range host location. The function of the aforementioned compounds was studied, ntridecane acted as an arrestant, prolonging T. japonicus residence time, whereas (E)-2-decenal fulfilled its presumed defensive role and repelled the wasp. These results shed new light on the chemical ecology of T. japonicus and help expand the understanding of parasitoid foraging and its implications for classical biological control. Moving to the other invader L. delicatula, an egg parasitoid Anastatus orientalis was reported attacking it at high rates in its native range in Eastern Asia and may play a key role in reducing its populations there. A series of bioassays revealed that wasps responded to footprints deposited by L. delicatula gravid females by initiating a strong searching behavior. Moreover, A. orientalis preferred to oviposit in egg masses with intact oothecae, suggesting that the host's egg covering functions as a trigger for A. orientalis probing and oviposition. Thus, A. orientalis not only overcomes, but also reverses an important line of host structural defense for its own fitness gains. This dissertation discusses the benefits of combining citizen science with traditional monitoring, and the usefulness of decoding host-parasitoid interactions to design more efficacious management strategies of invasive insect pests.
doi:10.15168/11572_257781 fatcat:megspv7vpbf5pgnq5bc2fkfjvy