“This typically is a long, labor-intensive and expensive process that requires laboratory studies to ensure that this predator is not only capable of surviving in its new environment but also that it preys only on the targeted invasive species and doesn’t attack native species,” Hu says.

“Even if the species overcomes these laboratory hurdles and is introduced, it’s often an open question whether it can survive in sufficient numbers to make a difference.”

That is the reason why Hu is excited about the discovery of the local predatory wasp species. The discovery of this species, along with the fly species may ultimately prove to be less expensive methods for reducing kudzu bug numbers.

During his field investigation, Golec noticed black masses within kudzu bug eggs — something that immediately caught his attention because these translucent eggs are normally characterized by a pinkish or yellowish tint. Even more intriguing: These black masses appeared to be moving.

He suspected that he had discovered evidence of a local predatory wasp that finds kudzu bugs suitable repositories for its own eggs — a hunch subsequently confirmed through follow-up investigation.

 “Using a high-speed camera, the wasps were recorded and observed under microscope as they emerged from these parasitized kudzu bug eggs,” Hu says. “The male wasps emerged first, guarding the parasitized eggs until the females came out.”

The female wasps emerge sexually mature. 

As soon as the wasps emerge from the eggs, they mate and the females immediately begin laying eggs, repeating the cycle.

The parasitic rates of parasitized eggs turned out to be especially high. 

Aside from confirming that there is yet another local predator of kudzu bugs, Hu says these wasps exhibit higher levels of parasitism than the recently discovered flies. Egg parasites typically are more effective predators than species that prey only on adults, she says.

In fact, preliminary field investigations reveal that more kudzu eggs than not appear to be parasitized by the wasps— evidence that the kudzu bug populations that emerge in the future may not be as large as they have in the past.

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