Introduction of biological control agents against the European earwig (Forficula auricularia) on the Falkland Islands.
The Falkland Islands (FI), as with many island ecosystems, is vulnerable to invasive species, which can cause wide ranging social and environmental consequences. Control of invasive species is widely recognized as a priority, but there have never been attempts to use classical biological control (CBC) for this purpose in FI. The European earwig was recently introduced to the FI and has since become abundant in the Stanley area and some other settlements on the islands. Earwigs now cause considerable damage to garden crops and also pose a number of health hazards. There are also concerns that earwigs have started to spread into grasslands and irreversibly alter this important native ecosystem. After extensive stakeholder consultations it was decided to use the invasive earwigs as a case study for the introduction of CBC to the FI. Based on previous work on earwig control, supplemented by additional host range testing, two tachinid flies, Triarthria setipennis and Ocytata pallipes, were selected as the most suitable control agents for the Falkland Islands. Extensive awareness raising activities, focusing on the threat of invasive species, benefits and risks of CBC, secured the support of the wider public to go ahead with the release of both control agents during 2015 and 2016. Major challenges encountered during the release process were the need to install makeshift quarantine facilities and the switchover of the life-cycle of both control agents to southern hemisphere seasons.