Eur. J. Entomol. 111 (3): 387-395, 2014 | 10.14411/eje.2014.041

Numerical response of Nesidiocoris tenuis (Hemiptera: Miridae) preying on Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in tomato crops

Juan A. SANCHEZ, Michelangelo LA-SPINA, Alfredo LACASA
Instituto Murciano de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario y Alimentario (IMIDA), Dept. Biotechnology and Crop Protection, C/Mayor, 1. La Alberca, 30150 Murcia, Spain; e-mails: juana.sanchez23@carm.es; cagitan2@hotmail.com; laspinamichelangelo@gmail.com; alfredo.lacasa@carm.es

Nesidiocoris tenuis (Reuter) (Hemiptera: Miridae) is an effective predator of pests of tomato crops and a promising biocontrol agent of Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in the Mediterranean area. The aim of this study was to determine the numerical response of N. tenuis to different levels of abundance of T. absoluta and its potential for controlling it when infesting tomato crops. The effects of infesting plants with either 0.2 or 2 larvae of T. absoluta and releasing either 2 or 0 adults of N. tenuis per plant were assayed in a complete factorial randomised-block design with 3 repeats in 12 greenhouse compartments in southern Spain. The population dynamics of the moth was similar in all compartments, with and without N. tenuis, but T. absoluta reached a lower absolute peak density in compartments with N. tenuis (29.1 ± 8.2 larvae per leaf) than in those without them (44.5 ± 19.4 larvae per leaf). The peak numbers of larvae of T. absoluta did not differ on the plants initially infested with 0.2 or 2 larvae. Nesidiocoris tenuis reached a maximum of 1.9 ± 0.43 and 3.0 ± 0.4 individuals per leaf in compartments in which low and high numbers of T. absoluta were initially introduced, respectively. The yield of tomatoes was higher in the treatments with N. tenuis than in those without, but the percentage of damaged fruit (> 50%) was similar. The slow numerical response of N. tenuis might have been due, among other things, to the poor establishment of this mirid due to the scarcity of prey. N. tenuis densities of about 0.2 individuals per leaf during the linear population growth phase of T. absoluta (0.5 to 3 larvae per leaf) did not prevent outbreaks.

Keywords: Hemiptera, Miridae, Nesidiocoris tenuis, Lepidoptera, Gelechiidae, Tuta absoluta, tomato borer, population dynamics, biological control, IPM, greenhouse

Received: September 13, 2013; Accepted: March 7, 2014; Prepublished online: April 23, 2014; Published: July 14, 2014

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