Experimental and Applied Acarology

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 19–32 | Cite as

Generalist red velvet mite predator (Balaustium sp.) performs better on a mixed diet

  • Karen Muñoz-Cárdenas
  • Luz Stella Fuentes
  • R. Fernando Cantor
  • C. Daniel Rodríguez
  • Arne JanssenEmail author
  • Maurice W. Sabelis


Generalist predators have the potential advantage to control more than one pest and to be more persistent than specialist predators because they can survive on different foods. Moreover, their population growth rate may be elevated when offered a mixture of prey species. We studied a generalist predatory mite Balaustium sp. that shows promise for biological control of thrips and whiteflies in protected rose cultures in Colombia. Although starting its life in the soil, this predator makes excursions onto plants where it feeds on various arthropods. We quantified life history parameters of the predator, offering high densities of three pest species: first-instar larvae of Frankliniella occidentalis, eggs of Trialeurodes vaporariorum and Tetranychus urticae, either alone or in combination. The predators completed their life cycle on each diet. The egg-to-egg period was c. 2 months. All eggs were laid in one batch in 1–2 days, indicating a pronounced semelparous reproduction pattern. In general, females reproduced earlier and laid more eggs on mixed diets, and these early reproducers consequently had higher population growth rates than late reproducers. The best diet in terms of egg-to-egg period and juvenile survival was the combination of eggs from whiteflies and spider mites. Spider mite eggs alone and western flower thrips larvae alone were the worst diets. It remains to be investigated whether mixed diets promote the population growth rate of Balaustium sufficiently for biocontrol of whiteflies and thrips in the presence of alternative prey, such as spider mites, to become effective.


Life cycle Life table parameters Big-bang reproduction Mixed diet Semelparity 



We thank Paul van Rijn for comments and especially for some pertinent suggestions with respect to Fig. 5, and two anonymous reviewers for comments. KM was supported by Colciencias (Colombia) (Programa “Francisco José de Caldas” 2011).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 7,759 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Muñoz-Cárdenas
    • 1
    • 3
  • Luz Stella Fuentes
    • 2
  • R. Fernando Cantor
    • 3
  • C. Daniel Rodríguez
    • 3
  • Arne Janssen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maurice W. Sabelis
    • 1
  1. 1.IBED, Population BiologyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Centro de BiosistemasUniversidad Jorge Tadeo LozanoChía, CundinamarcaColombia
  3. 3.Programa de Biología Aplicada, Facultad de Ciencias BásicasUniversidad Militar Nueva GranadaCajicáColombia

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