The parasitoid, Microctonus aethiopoides Loan (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) was introduced into New Zealand in 1982 to control the alfalfa pest, Sitona discoideus Gyllenhal (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Studies have shown that a number of nontarget weevil species are attacked in the field by this parasitoid. A field study was carried out to investigate nontarget parasitism by M. aethiopoides over an altitudinal sequence from the target host habitat (alfalfa) into native grassland. Three locations were selected for the study, and at each, the alfalfa growing in the valley floor was sampled annually for parasitism of the target pest that ranged between 17 and 78%. At progressively higher altitudes, three further grassland sites at each location were sampled monthly during spring to autumn for up to 6 yr. Weevil densities were estimated, species identified, and dissections carried out to determine reproductive status and parasitism. Almost 12,000 weevils were collected during the study, which were identified as 36 species in total from the three locations. Eight weevil species were found to be parasitized, including S. discoideus, the target host that was found at all sites. Parasitism of nontarget species was ≈2% overall but varied with location, site, and season. Substantial nontarget parasitism was found at only one of the locations, with up to 24% parasitism of a native weevil, Nicaeana fraudator Broun (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), recorded. Another species, Irenimus egens (Broun) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), was also found at this location at similar population densities but was attacked far less by M. aethiopoides. Results are discussed in relation to weevil phenology.
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