Parasitism of locally recruited egg parasitoids of the fall armyworm in Africa.
The fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), is an insect native to the tropical and subtropical Americas that has recently spread to Africa, where it predominately attacks maize, sorghum and other plant species. Biological control is an environmentally friendly way of combatting the pest and contributes to an integrated pest management approach. In Africa, several trichogrammatid parasitoids and Telenomus remus Nixon (Hymenoptera: Platygastridae) have been found parasitizing eggs of the FAW. In Niger, the egg parasitoids encountered include Trichogrammatoidea sp. (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) and Telenomus remus Nixon. Parasitism of the FAW eggs by the two egg parasitoids was assessed in the laboratory, followed by field testing on sentinel eggs. In the laboratory, T. remus parasitized on average 78% of FAW eggs, compared to 25% for Trichogrammatoidea sp. Telenomus remus was able to parasitize egg masses that were fully covered with scales, while Trichogrammatoidea sp. parasitized only uncovered egg masses. On-farm releases of T. remus in sorghum fields caused up to 64% of FAW egg parasitism. Parasitized eggs yielded viable progeny, which can contribute to FAW egg parasitism build-up during the cropping season. Our findings lay the groundwork for the use of T. remus in augmentative releases against FAW in Africa.