The South American weevil Listronotus bonariensis (Kuschel) is an important pest of pastures in New Zealand. As a component of management strategies for this pest, the South American parasitoid Microctonus hyperodae Loan (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) was released in northern New Zealand during 1991 as a biological control agent. Over the subsequent 5–6 yr, the reproductive biology of M. hyperodae and its relationship to, and effects on, the reproductive phenology and fitness of L. bonariensis were studied at three sites. M. hyperodae was first recovered in the field in December 1991. Subsequently, the incidence of parasitism in L. bonariensis increased to seasonal maxima of 75–90%. There was variable synchrony between parasitoid generations and the two generations of its host, leading to marked seasonal variation in rates of parasitism and parasitoid abundance. Despite marked inter-year variation, abundance of host adult and egg populations declined in the presence of parasitoids. Parasitized host females had lower ovarian maturity scores, had lower egg loads, and exhibited less investment in wing muscle development than females that had escaped parasitism. There was almost complete elimination of egg maturation in parasitized females and these hosts contributed little to population recruitment. Rate of buildup and seasonal maxima in parasitism, frequency of superparasitism, adult abundances, and wing muscle development in adult L. bonariensis varied among the three sites in a manner that was only partially related to climate differences across the 1.83° gradient of latitude. Site effects were weak to absent in measures of reproductive condition in L. bonariensis females.
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Vol. 42 • No. 5