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A new biological control method for the common furniture beetle with Spathius exarator

| November 7, 2017

Dr. Judith Auer, Alexander Kassel
APC AG, Allround Pest Control AG, Ostendstr. 132, D-90482 Nuremberg, Germany;

Abstract: Biological control using beneficial organisms is getting more and more important in the Integrated Pest Management. A new and effective strategy in the fight against the most common timber pest species in churches and museums, the furniture beetle Anobium punctatum, is based on the use of the parasitioid wasp species Spathius exarator. This braconid wasp parasitizes its host species by piercing its ovipositor directly through the wood surface followed by oviposition onto the beetle larva. Adult wasps emerge through a tiny 0.5mm wide wood hole, which can be clearly distinguished from the 2mm wide hole of A. punctatum. The wasp also parasitizes the brown powderpost beetle Lyctus brunneus. The house longhorn beetle Hylotrupes bajuleus is not killed and parasitized by S. exarator.

Since 2012 to 2016, a total of 53 A. punctatum infested buildings was treated with S. exarator. We present here the results of the monitoring of 29 buildings treated with S.exarator for two to three years by comparing the pooled basic parasitization rate before the first treatment with the pooled parasitization rate found during the last monitoring. Moreover, we show the mean cumulative increase of newly appeared exit holes of S. exarator and the mean decline of newly appeared A. punctatum exit holes on exactly defined areas in the treated objects.

Spathius exarator treated objects show significantly higher parasitization rates compared to untreated objects (Mann-Whitney U; p= 4.41×10-6). Concurrently with the increase in the parasitization rates and the corresponding number of newly S. exarator exit holes, the number of annually newly appeared exit holes of A. punctatum decreased. After three years, an average of 92,61% less furniture beetles emerged.

Our results reveal S. exarator as an efficient and sustainable biological control method of A. punctatum. Though, more practical experience will be required to develop a continuous application program optimizing treatment and rate of success.

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