, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 217-234

Effect of long-term feeding history on functional and numerical response of Neoseiulus californicus (Acari: Phytoseiidae)

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The functional and numerical responses of the predatory mite Neoseiulus californicus to eggs and protonymphs of Tetranychus urticae were studied on excised strawberry leaflet discs under laboratory conditions (25 ± 1°C, 75–85% RH and 16L : 8D). Four strains of the phytoseiid were compared: three originated from a long-term mass-rearing with different food (T. urticae, Dermatophagoides farinae and Quercus spp. pollen) and under controlled conditions, while the fourth was directly collected from a natural environment and therefore considered a wild strain. The different nutritional histories affected the responses of N. californicus on tetranychids. On the whole, the wild strain gave better performance. When egg prey was administered this strain and the one mass-reared on two-spotted spider mites showed similar functional as well as numerical responses; on the contrary, when protonymphs were furnished, the wild strain did not differ from that mass-reared on pollen. The strain previously fed on house dust mites gave the worst performance and also showed the lowest percentages of females in the progeny. The functional responses obtained were predominantly type II curves. In all cases considered, no stored energy was allocated for reproduction and, with the exception of the wild strain on eggs, the prey was exploited less efficiently as the consumption increased. In spite of the differences evidenced in this experiment all strains were characterized by high predation and oviposition rates. Thus the results obtained suggest no drawbacks in the use of mass-reared N. californicus as biocontrol agents. © Rapid Science Ltd. 1998