Establishment of the hemlock woolly adelgid predator, Laricobius nigrinus (Coleoptera: Derodontidae), in the eastern United States.
The hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae Annand (Hemiptera: Adelgidae), native to western North America and Asia, was accidentally introduced from Japan to the eastern United States. To potentially establish biological control of A. tsugae, we released a predator endemic to western North America, Laricobius nigrinus Fender (Coleoptera: Derodontidae), from 2003 to 2005, in 22 localities from Georgia to Massachusetts. Release sites spanned the invasive range of the adelgid across five United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones (5a to 7a). Release sizes were 75, 150, 300, 600, or 1,200 adult L. nigrinus per site in the fall, winter, early spring, or sequentially (i.e., fall or winter and early spring). We monitored establishment by annual sampling for L. nigrinus adults with beat sheets and for L. nigrinus larvae by branch clipping. At the end of 3 yr, L. nigrinus was established in 13 of the 22 sites. The following variables were evaluated for their correlation with the numbers of L. nigrinus larvae and adults recovered and for their effect on establishment (scored as F3 presence/absence): (1) Minimum winter temperature at the release site, (2) A. tsugae density at the time of release, (3) release size, and (4) release season. Only minimum winter temperature was correlated with larval recoveries and no variables were correlated with adult recoveries. Logistic regression modeling found that establishment was positively related to minimum winter temperature and release size. We recommend smaller release sizes in warm areas where establishment probability was high (i.e., zones 7a, 6b, and 6a) and larger release sizes in cold areas where establishment probability was low (i.e., zones 5b and 5a). Releases during fall - early spring and across the range of A. tsugae densities tested were successful.