Studies were performed to assess the operational feasibility of Trichogramma exiguum Pinto & Platner (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) augmentation for suppression of the Nantucket pine tip moth, Rhyacionia frustrana (Comstock) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae), in commercial loblolly pine, Pinus taeda L., plantations. Single inundative releases containing two cohorts of encapsulated T. exiguum at a potential rate of 224,200 ± 27,600 females per ha per cohort were made into two 4-ha plots during the second R. frustrana generation in 2000. Augmentation failed to increase parasitism rates above those occurring naturally; yet, 10% fewer shoots were attacked by R. frustrana, but not below acceptable levels. Quality control data suggest that low emergence levels and intense predation by ants upon developing T. exiguum lowered actual release rates to 13,000 ± 900 females per ha per cohort. The effect of capsule distribution and microclimate on the discovery of capsules by predators (indicated by some E. kuehniella egg removal), parasitoid predation (percentage of eggs removed or destroyed), and subsequent parasitoid emergence was investigated. Uniformly distributed capsules experienced significantly higher predation levels than clustered capsules, and capsules exposed to field conditions for 5 d experienced higher predation than those exposed for 3 d, independently of distribution. Discovery of capsules by predators was unaffected by distribution or exposure period. Microhabitat significantly impacted average maximum daily temperature, the number of consecutive hours per day at or above 35°C, and parasitoid emergence percentages. Parasitoid emergence declined significantly in response to increasing number of consecutive hours per day above 35°C. Microclimate did not impact capsule discovery by predators or predation levels. Augmentation of T. exiguum for suppression of R. frustrana damage may not be practical within P. taeda plantations.
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Vol. 101 • No. 2