Factors affecting establishment and recovery of Sasajiscymnus tsugae (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), an introduced predator of hemlock woolly adelgid (Hemiptera: Adelgidae) on eastern hemlock (Pinales: Pinaceae).
To reduce populations of hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae Annand (Hemiptera: Adelgidae), >500,000 Sasajiscymnus tsugae (Sasaji and McClure) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) have been released in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park since 2002. To determine factors affecting establishment and recovery of these predatory beetles, 65 single release sites were sampled using beat sheets from 2008 to 2012. Several abiotic and biotic factors were evaluated for their association with establishment and recovery of S. tsugae. Information on predatory beetle releases (location, year of release, number released, and season of release), topographic features (elevation, slope, Beers transformed aspect, and topographic relative moisture index), and temperature data (minimum and maximum temperatures 1 d after release and average minimum and maximum temperatures 7 d after release) were obtained from Great Smoky Mountains National Park personnel. These factors were evaluated using stepwise logistic regression and Pearson correlation. S. tsugae was recovered from 13 sites 2 to 10 yr after release, and the greatest number was recovered from 2002 release sites. Regression indicated establishment and recovery was negatively associated with year of release and positively associated with the average maximum temperature 7 d after release and elevation (generally, recovery increased as temperatures increased). Several significant correlations were found between presence and number of S. tsugae and year of release, season of release, and temperature variables. These results indicate that releases of S. tsugae should be made in warmer (∼10-25°C) temperatures and monitored for at least 5 yr after releases to enhance establishment and recovery efforts.