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Ophelimus update

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Formerly known as the Forest Research Institute, Scion has been a leader in research relating to forest health for over 50 years. The Rotorua-based Crown Research Institute continues to provide science that will protect all forests from damage caused by insect pests, pathogens and weeds. The information presented below arises from these research activities.

From Forest Health News No. 38, January 1995.

Before Christmas, Bruce Treeby (NZ Farm Forestry Association) and I spent some time in Australia investigating the possibility of finding a biological control agent for Ophelimus the gall wasp affecting Eucalyptus spp. We also visited lan Naumann (CSIRO) who has been studying the taxonomy of this genus for us.

Bruce and l, with the marvellous assistance of NSW State Forests personnel, examined coastal Eucalyptus botryoides through several hundred kilometres of the New South Wales forests. Galls from nearly thirty Different sites were taken back to the research laboratory in Sydney where the galls were examined by dissection for the presence of wasp larvae.

Three different parasites were found feeding on the larvae, but only one shows any promise of being an effective control. we will not be able to determine how effective this parasitoid is going to be until we breed it in the laboratory and examine its potential rates of increase. At the moment I am attempting to develop a method of culturing Ophelimus in laboratory conditions. When we have a satisfactory method I will return to NSW to set up a culture of the potential biological control.

We had been informed that the gall wasp on E. botryoides and E. saligna was Ophelimus eucalypti and that Rhicnopeltella eucalypti had been moved into the genus Ophelimus with no specific designation. In discussion with lan Naumann, Bruce and I determined that the specimens pinned out in CSIRO were not differentiated properly. We were able to determine based upon these discussions that Rhicnopeltella is in fact Ophelimus eucalypti and the new beastie although falling into the same genus has not been described because they did not realise they had two distinct species. So, the pimple gall wasp is Ophelimus eucalypti and the new beastie on E. saligna and E. botryoides will be referred to as Ophelimus (b) in all future enquiries until the insect has been described.

Patrick Walsh


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