Potential of the predatory mite Phytoseius finitimus (Acari: Phytoseiidae) to feed and reproduce on greenhouse pests
Phytoseiid mites of the genus Phytoseius are natural enemies of tetranychid and eriophyid herbivorous mites mostly found on hairy plants where they feed on prey, as well as on pollen. Nevertheless, the nutritional ecology and the role of these predators in biological pest control are only rarely addressed. In the present study, we evaluated the potential of Phytoseius finitimus to feed and reproduce on three major greenhouse pests, the two-spotted spider mite, the greenhouse whitefly and the western flower thrips. Additionally, we estimated the effect of cattail pollen when provided to the predator alone or in mixed diets with prey. Contrary to thrips larvae, both spider mite larvae and whitefly crawlers sustained the development of P. finitimus. In addition, females consumed more spider mite eggs and larvae, as well as whitefly crawlers than thrips larvae, but laid eggs when feeding on all prey. When provided alone, cattail pollen sustained the development and reproduction of the predator. The addition of pollen in mixed diets with prey reduced prey consumption, though it increased the predator’s egg production. We discuss the implications of our findings for biological pest control.
KeywordsPhytoseiidae Spider mites Thrips Whitefly Pollen Alternative food
Dr. Farid Faraji (MITOX Consultants) is acknowledged for the identification of the phytoseiid species. The detailed and constructive comments of two anonymous reviewers resulted in considerable improvement of our manuscript.
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