The influence of temperature on the flight capacity of emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis and its parasitoid, Tetrastichus planipennisi: implications to biological control

Samuel J. Fahrner, Jonathan P. Lelito, Brian H. Aukema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The success of classical biological control programs often hinges on an appropriate climatic match between a novel ecosystem and an imported natural enemy. In particular, temperature is the most important factor mediating survival, developmental synchrony, and dispersal of invasive pests and their natural enemies. We used computer-monitored flight mills to investigate the roles of temperature and humidity in the flight distance, flight speed, number of flights, and post-flight mortality of emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) and its parasitoid Tetrastichus planipennisi Yang (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) in laboratory settings. Flight distance had a concave, parabolic relationship with temperature for both insects. Maximum flight distances in 24 h occurred at 27.9 °C (1.13 km) for emerald ash borer and 26.5 °C (1.81 km) for T. planipennisi. Flight speed and post-flight mortality increased with temperature for both insects. Relative humidity was inversely related to flight speeds for emerald ash borer, but positively correlated with the number of flights and post-flight survival by T. planipennisi. We integrated the relationship between flight distance and temperature for both insects with landscape temperatures and flight periods for insects at ten locations across the continental USA to develop a flight index. The flight index offers a relative scale of flight capacity across locations based solely on temperature. We found that the flight index for Detroit was intermediate to low compared to other locations, with the smallest and largest flight indices projected in Minneapolis and Seattle for emerald ash borer and Seattle and Atlanta for T. planipennisi. The implications of results for host–parasitoid dispersal patterns and release protocols for distributing T. planipennisi are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-449
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 21 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. George E. Heimpel (University of Minnesota, USA) for advice in development of the flight mill and Jonathan Aukema, John Vanstone, and Jeff Cassidy (Western University, London, Ontario, Canada) for their technical expertise. Drs. Robert C. Venette (USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station), handling editor Stefano Colazza, editor in chief Eric Wajnberg, and two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments that improved earlier drafts of this manuscript. Funding was provided by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, McKnight Land-Grant Professorship funds to BHA, and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC).


  • Coleoptera: Buprestidae
  • Dispersal
  • Host–parasitoid interactions
  • Hymenoptera: Eulophidae


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