Demography of an invading forest insect reunited with hosts and parasitoids from its native range.
The Sirex woodwasp Sirex noctilio Fabricius (Hymenoptera: Siricidae), a widespread invasive pest of pines in the Southern Hemisphere, was first detected in North America in 2004. This study assessed the impacts of life history traits, host resistance and species interactions on the demography of S. noctilio in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, then compared key metrics to those found in the native range in Galicia, Spain. Many trees naturally attacked by S. noctilio in North America produced no adult woodwasps, with 5 of 38 infested trees (13%) sampled across six sites yielding 64% of emerging insects. Reproductive success was highest in the introduced host scots pine, Pinus sylvestris, but native red pine, Pinus resinosa, produced larger insects. Sirex noctilio required one or sometimes two years to develop and sex ratios were male biased, 1:2.98 ♀:♂. Body size and fecundity were highly variable, but generally lower than observed in non-native populations in the Southern Hemisphere. Hymenopteran parasitoids killed approximately 20% of S. noctilio larvae and 63% of emerging adults were colonized by the parasitic nematode Deladenus siricidicola, although no nematodes entered eggs. Demographic models suggested that S. noctilio in the northeastern USA have a higher potential for population growth than populations in the native range: estimated finite factor of increase, λ, was 4.17-4.52 (depending on tree species colonized), compared to λ = 1.57 in Spain.