My PhD project focuses on biocontrol: using beneficial species to manage the impacts of undesirable species.
I’m looking at Trissolcus japonicus, or the ‘samurai wasp.’ This tiny Asian wasp has been proposed for release against the brown marmorated stink bug in New Zealand (if and when the stink bug is found to have established here). My work focuses on testing the likelihood this wasp would attack New Zealand’s native and naturalised stink bug species if it were released. In order to do this, I’m rearing NZ stink bug species so I can use their eggs to test the behaviour of the wasp.
Most researchers conducting these types of tests would have to compile a short-list of stink bug species to test, based on things like their biological classification, their rarity, their economic importance, etc. But New Zealand has so few species of stink bug, I can include all potential non-target species in my tests. Here is a visual guide to New Zealand’s stink bugs.