RP6 Benefits and risks of using native parasitoids for augmentaive biological control of the invasive pest Halyomorpha halys in Europe

This research project investigates the efficacy of inundative field releases of the native polyphagous egg parasitoid Anastatus bifasciatus against an invasive heteropteran pest in Europe (Halyomorpha halys) and at the same time quantifies the risk of direct and indirect non-target effects of mass released biological control agents.

e invasive heteropteran pest Halyomorpha halys is a rising threat to fruit crops in Europe but control measures are lacking. Native European egg parasitoids have started to adopt the new host H. halys and thus, show potential for augmentative biological control. The main objective of the project is to develop an innovative, environmentally safe control strategy such as biological control.

A thorough risk-assessment strategy and subsequent monitoring of the released organisms are key components of modern and environmentally safe biological control procedures. The PhD candidate will conduct laboratory and field experiments to quantify the risk of direct and indirect non-target effects of inundatively released egg parasitoids against H. halys. This may include studies on the effects of host preference, acceptance, suitability and parasitoid fitness, the impact of intraguild predation on parasitoid population dynamics and the persistence of biological control agents after release.