New Zealand Imports Predators to Help Bees
A unique situation has arisen, where an insect predator is being brought into New Zealand to help protect bees and willow trees. In fact, it can help them thrive.
New Zealand beekeepers are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a tiny insect from California that holds a lot of potential to bring positive change. This little creature preys on the giant willow aphid.
The Environmental Protection Authority approved the parasitoid insect Pauesia nigrovaria, with high hopes that it will help willow trees to survive, which in turn helps bees to survive, since the willow is a critical source of nectar and pollen for bees in spring, providing essential bee food.
The giant willow aphid was first discovered in New Zealand as recently as 2013 and has devastated willow trees ever since. The ripple effect has been that bees and honey production have suffered adverse effects as well.
This exotic pest species can have dangerous effects on the willows, even to the point of killing the tree. A further benefit to importing the parasitoid insect is that it will help reduce wasps in the area. The giant willow aphid attracts swarms of wasps that feed on its secretions, multiply, and attack bees.
The parasitoid insect will control the aphid population by laying an egg inside the aphid. When the egg hatches inside the aphid and becomes a pupa, the aphid will die and turn into a mummy. When the parasitoid chews a hole in the aphid, it will emerge and find a mate… and then a new aphid. The cycle goes forward in this way.
The start date for the project is next autumn, if all goes as planned.
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