Field associations of first generation densities of the pest mites Halotydeus destructor and Penthaleus major in pasture
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Halotydeus destructor and Penthaleus major are species of earth mite commonly found at high densities in agricultural fields in Australia and other parts of the world. These mites pose a risk to a range of winter crops and pastures when seedlings emerge in autumn. In order to predict likely mite pressure, we investigated whether autumn densities in pastures can be determined from agronomic and environmental field variables. For H. destructor, field densities showed little association with a range of vegetation variables but could largely be explained using the variable field type, with high densities present when fields had mixtures of grass, clover and weeds. For P. major, we found a regional effect. In the region where most data were available, P. major field densities were associated with grass abundance, whereas an association with field type was significant but different to that found for H. destructor. For both species, densities were not associated with rainfall, but there was a weak association with soil moisture capacity. We discuss how these results can help in managing these important pest mites.
KeywordsHalotydeus Penthaleus Control Earth mite Population ecology
This research was supported by funding from the Grains Research Development Corporation and the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation, and would not have been possible without the time and assistance from numerous agronomists and farmers. We also thank Garry McDonald for preliminary work and Xuan Cheng for technical advice. Thanks to the anonymous reviewers whose comments on this manuscript were very valuable.
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