After 15 failures to establish Cotesia flavipes (Cameron) as a parasitoid of the sugarcane borer, Diatraea saccharalis (F.), in Louisiana sugarcane fields (Saccharum spp.), four release refuges were established as sites for an intensive study of the crop, host, and parasitoid interaction for a full crop cycle. These refuges were maintained with minimal disturbance from June 2001 to June 2002 to encourage the establishment of C. flavipes. Refuges were managed in a manner such that (1) sugarcane borer larvae were abundant, (2) predation of parasitoids by the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta (Buren), was minimized, (3) host and parasitoid were not exposed to insecticide applications used to control economically damaging sugarcane borer infestations, (4) presence of parasitoids was insured through repeated releases during the growing season, and (5) the sugarcane was not harvested to enhance overwintering opportunities for C. flavipes. C. flavipes was successfully recovered in all established refuges and overwintered in three of the four refuges. However, parasitoids were not collected during May of the following spring. The inability of the parasitoid to use first-generation sugarcane borer larvae seems to be a major limiting factor preventing establishment of C. flavipes in Louisiana sugarcane. In May, the sugarcane stalks have not formed internodes, which may preclude important host finding and host acceptance cues such as frass and silk in the tunnel entrance. Although efforts were made to suppress the red imported fire ant at the study sites, ant predation on C. flavipes was also a major factor limiting establishment.
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