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Life history and host plant assessment of the cacao mirid bug Helopeltis bakeri Poppius (Hemiptera: Miridae)


Helopeltis bakeri Poppius is a major insect pest of cacao, Theobroma cacao L. in the Philippines. It is one of the four Helopeltis species endemic to the Philippines, easily recognizable for its sexual dimorphism. Up to date, no developmental biology and host plant list have been recorded for H. bakeri. Here, we report its life history, conduct surveys, and present potential host plant species. Biological characteristics of H. bakeri reared on Ipomea batatas (L.) Poir. shoots were observed in the laboratory at 27 ± 1 °C, 59 to 73% RH, and L12:D12. Five nymphal stages were recorded. Egg incubation period was 7.49 ± 0.43 days, and the duration of each of the five developmental stages was 3.11 ± 0.53, 1.51 ± 0.37, 2.07 ± 0.11, 4.40 ± 0.32 and 4.45 ± 0.17 days, respectively. Adult longevity was not significantly different between both sexes. We also provided morphological descriptions and measurements of the immature stages to aid proper nymphal identification of H. bakeri. No choice tests and field observations revealed four potential host plants, i.e., Chromolaena odorata (L.) R King & H Robinson, Cucumis sativus L., Hibiscus rosasinensis L., and Psidium guajava L., and two plants, i.e., Polyscias scutellaria (Burm. f.) Fosb. and Ipomea batatas (L.) Poir with confirmed host association. The information gathered on the life history, and host plant associations of H. bakeri would help decide the appropriate pest management strategy for controlling the population of this insect pest in the country's cacao-growing areas.

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Technical assistance was provided by Reynaldo Majaducon, Alfred Bongat, Niki Ciara Almirez, and Jovelyn Villadiego of the Biological Control Research Unit (BCRU), De La Salle University – Science and Technology Complex (DLSU-STC), Biñan, Laguna, Philippines. We thank Mario Navasero and Marcela Navasero of the Crop Protection Cluster, College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines, for their valuable suggestion on the presence of mirid bugs on polyscias. We also thank R. Avila (Ranchito Farm, Candelaria, Quezon, Ph), L. Averion (Department of Agriculture- Region IV-A - QAES, Tiaong, Quezon, Ph), and M. Mostoles (Central Bicol State University of Agriculture - CBSUA, Pili, Camarines Sur, Bicol, Philippines) for their assistance on the cacao field surveys we conducted.


The project was funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD)—Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines, under the cacao pest management program (biological-based approaches).

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JMS, ATB, and DMA contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by JMS, LCO, BMA, ATB, and KW. JMS wrote the first draft of the manuscript, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Joeselle M. Serrana.

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Serrana, J.M., Ormenita, L.A.C., Almarinez, B.J.M. et al. Life history and host plant assessment of the cacao mirid bug Helopeltis bakeri Poppius (Hemiptera: Miridae). Phytoparasitica 50, 1–12 (2022).

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  • Helopeltis bakeri Poppius
  • Cacao mirid bug
  • Life history
  • Nymphal stage
  • Host association