The South American curculionid Listronotus bonariensis (Kuschel) is an important pest of pastures in New Zealand. Population census data were gathered for L. bonariensis in northern New Zealand pastures during 1980–1983 in the absence of parasitism and again in 1991–1996 after the introduction and establishment of the braconid parasitoid Microctonus hyperodae Loan as a biological control agent. M. hyperodae achieved high rates of parasitism, with 75–90% of overwintering L. bonariensis parasitized within 3 yr of the parasitoid establishing at a site. Multistratum analysis of variance (ANOVA), with allowance for variation in host plant resource (numbers of Neotyphodium-free grass tillers), indicated reduction in the abundance of L. bonariensis life stages in the early part of life cycle. Although providing evidence for suppression of L. bonariensis, these analyses indicated the regulatory role of M. hyperodae was weak because L. bonariensis populations continued to exhibit marked intergenerational variability in abundance. Analyses of life tables indicated larval pupal survival contributed most to intergenerational changes in abundance, irrespective of presence or absence of M. hyperodae. However, the density dependence of the stage survivals was modified in the presence of the parasitoid, with loss of density-dependent mortality in overwintering adults and increased density dependence in population natality. Regression analyses indicated dual contribution of parasitism and host plant resource to regulation of population natality and population trend in L. bonariensis. We conclude that M. hyperodae is a useful adjunct to host plant resistance in reducing the economic status of L. bonariensis populations in northern New Zealand pastures.
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Vol. 99 • No. 2