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Evaluation of various types of supplemental food for two species of predatory mites, Amblyseius swirskii and Neoseiulus cucumeris (Acari: Phytoseiidae)

Abstract

Although phytoseiids are best known as predators of phytophagous mites and other small arthropods, several species can also feed and reproduce on pollen. In laboratory assays, we assessed the profitability of two types of dietary supplements (three pollen species—cattail, maize and apple—and eggs of the Mediterranean flour moth, Ephestia kuehniella) for the two species of predatory mites most commonly used as biocontrol agents in horticulture in Canada, Neoseiulus cucumeris and Amblyseius swirskii. We measured the effects of each diet on phytoseiid fitness parameters (survival, development, sex ratio, fecundity) and, as a means of comparison, when fed larvae of the common targeted pest species, western flower thrips Frankliniella occidentalis. A soluble protein assay was also performed on the alternative food sources as protein content is often linked to high nutritive value according to the literature. All food sources tested were suitable for N. cucumeris and A. swirskii, both species being able to develop from egg to adult. The dietary supplements had a beneficial impact on biological parameters, mostly resulting in shorter development times and higher survival rates when compared to thrips larvae. Amblyseius swirskii exhibited a wider dietary range than N. cucumeris. Overall, flour moth eggs, cattail pollen and apple pollen are food sources of equal quality for A. swirskii, whereas apple and cattail pollen are better when it comes to N. cucumeris. In contrast, maize pollen is a less suitable food source for N. cucumeris and A. swirskii. Soluble protein content results did not match the prediction under which the most beneficial food source would contain the highest concentration in protein.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Josée Doyon and Claude Beaudoin for technical assistance, Stéphane Daigle for statistical advice, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions on the manuscript. This work was funded by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Growing Forward ‘Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Research and Innovation Cluster’ and by the Canada Research Chair in Biological Control to JB.

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Correspondence to J. Brodeur.

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Delisle, J.F., Brodeur, J. & Shipp, L. Evaluation of various types of supplemental food for two species of predatory mites, Amblyseius swirskii and Neoseiulus cucumeris (Acari: Phytoseiidae). Exp Appl Acarol 65, 483–494 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10493-014-9862-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10493-014-9862-3

Keywords

  • Alternative food sources
  • Pollen
  • Ephestia kuehniella egg
  • Frankliniella occidentalis
  • Life history parameters
  • Biological control