Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Life-history traits of Macrolophus pygmaeus with different prey foods.

Abstract

Macrolophus pygmaeus Rambur (Hemiptera: Miridae) is a generalist predatory mirid widely used in augmentative biological control of various insect pests in greenhouse tomato production in Europe, including the invasive tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera, Gelechiidae). However, its biocontrol efficacy often relies on the presence of alternative prey. The present study aimed at evaluating the effect of various prey foods (Ephestia kuehniella eggs, Bemisia tabaci nymphs, Tuta absoluta eggs and Macrosiphum euphorbiae nymphs) on some life history traits of M. pygmaeus. Both nymphal development and adult fertility of M. pygmaeus were significantly affected by prey food type, but not survival. Duration of nymphal stage was higher when M. pygmaeus fed on T. absoluta eggs compared to the other prey. Mean fertility of M. pygmaeus females was greatest when fed with B. tabaci nymphs, and was greater when offered M. euphorbiae aphids and E. kuehniella eggs than when offered T. absoluta eggs. Given the low quality of T. absoluta eggs, the efficacy of M. pygmaeus to control T. absoluta may be limited in the absence of other food sources. Experiments for assessing effectiveness of generalist predators should involve the possible impact of prey preference as well as a possible prey switching.