Host plant effects on the behaviour and performance of Amblyseius swirskii (Acari: Phytoseiidae)
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Biological control in ornamental crops is challenging due to the wide diversity of crops and cultivars. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that trichome density on different host plants influences the behavior and performance of the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii Athias-Henriot (Acari: Phytoseiidae). Behavioural observations of this predator in the presence or absence of prey (western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) were done on leaf squares of ornamental plant species differing in trichome density (rose, chrysanthemum and gerbera) and compared to a smooth surface (plastic). Tomato leaves were used to observe the influence of glandular trichomes. The performance of A. swirskii was assessed by measuring predation and oviposition rate. Behaviour of A. swirskii was influenced by plant species. Up to a certain density of trichomes, trichome number had a negative effect on walking speed. It was highest on plastic, followed by rose. No differences were found among chrysanthemum, gerbera and tomato. Walking speed was slightly higher on disks without prey. Proportion of time spent walking was the same on leaf disks of all plant species, with and without prey. No effect of glandular trichomes on tomato leaves was seen. Most thrips were killed and consumed on gerbera, and least on rose. Predation rates on chrysanthemum and plastic were intermediate. In contrast, no differences in oviposition rate were found among plant species. The results of this study indicate that trichome density can explain some of the variability in efficacy of A. swirskii on different crops. Release rates of A. swirskii may need to be adjusted depending on the crop in which it is used.
KeywordsGreenhouse ornamentals Western flower thrips Trichome density Biological control
Thanks to Sébastien Rocheleau, Erik Glemser and Rebecca Eerkes for technical assistance. Funding was obtained through an Agriculture Adaptation Council—Canada Ontario Research and Development (CORD) IV Grant (Project No. 9006) to Flowers Canada (Ontario) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Matching Investment Initiative; and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada under the Growing Forward Program.
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