Parasitism of diamondback moth <i>Plutella xylostella</i> by the solitary parasitoid wasp <i>Cotesia vestalis</i> in Samoa
Plutella xylostella is a major pest of crucifier crops in Samoa and other Pacific islands. This pest has developed resistance to most insecticides available in the island nations so the objective of this study was to examine potential biological control options for P. xylostella in Samoa. Existing parasitism of P. xylostella on Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa subspp.) was investigated at a farm in Alesia and at the USP farm in Alafua, and established populations of Cotesia vestalis were found at both locations. Plutella xylostella larvae turn light yellow and show sluggish behaviour after parasitism, and they could be easily differentiated from unparasitised ones. Developing C. vestalis larvae emerge from their hosts and spin white cocoon around their body. After 5–6 days, a single adult emerges from the C. vestalis cocoon. The average parasitism rate between April 2015 and March 2016 was 10–18% but was significantly higher at the USP farm than the Alesia farm. This result could be because no insecticides were applied to the crops at USP. Parasitism was highest between June and August when the lowest average daily temperatures occur.