Effectiveness of Torymus sinensis: a successful long-term control of the Asian chestnut gall wasp in Italy.
The biocontrol agent Torymus sinensis has been released into Japan, the USA, and Europe to suppress the Asian chestnut gall wasp, Dryocosmus kuriphilus. In this study, we provide a quantitative assessment of T. sinensis effectiveness for suppressing gall wasp infestations in Northwest Italy by annually evaluating the percentage of chestnuts infested by D. kuriphilus (infestation rate) and the number of T. sinensis adults that emerged per 100 galls (emergence index) over a 9-year period. We recorded the number of T. sinensis adults emerging from a total of 64,000 galls collected from 23 sampling sites. We found that T. sinensis strongly reduced the D. kuriphilus population, as demonstrated by reduced galls and an increased T. sinensis emergence index. Specifically, in Northwest Italy, the infestation rate was nearly zero 9 years after release of the parasitoid with no evidence of resurgence in infestation levels. In 2012, the number of T. sinensis females emerging per 100 galls was approximately 20 times higher than in 2009. Overall, T. sinensis proved to be an outstanding biocontrol agent, and its success highlights how the classical biological control approach may represent a cost-effective tool for managing an exotic invasive pest.