Optimized timing of parasitoid release: a mathematical model for biological control of Drosophila suzukii.
We present a model for the population dynamics of the invasive fruit fly Drosophila suzukii and its pupal parasitoid Trichopria drosophilae. Seasonality of the environment is captured through a system of delay differential equations with variable delays. The model is used to explore optimal timing for releasing parasitoids in biological control programs. According to the results, releasing parasitoids is most effective between late spring and early summer when the host population begins to increase. A single parasitoid release event can be more efficient than multiple releases over a prolonged period, but multiple releases are more robust to suboptimal timing choices. The findings can be useful for optimizing parasitoid release and should be transferable for similar systems. More generally, the model is an example for stage-structured resource-consumer dynamics in a varying environment.