The potential of host plants for biological control of Tuta absoluta by the predator Dicyphus errans.
Dicyphus errans (Wolff) has been shown to be a suitable biocontrol agent for Tuta absoluta (Meyrick). This generalist predator shares various host plants with the exotic pest, and these interactions could be exploited to enhance pest control. Therefore, host preference, survival rate and development times of the predator and prey were investigated on crop and non-crop plant species. Among the tested plants, the favourite hosts were Solanum species for T. absoluta, and herb Robert, European black nightshade, courgette and tomato for D. errans. Tuta absoluta accepted the same plant species as hosts for oviposition, but it never developed on herb Robert and courgette in all the experiments. Based on our results, we would suggest the use of courgette and herb Robert in consociation with tomato and as a companion plant, respectively, which may keep pest densities below the economic threshold. Moreover, the omnivorous and widespread D. errans could be a key predator of this exotic pest, allowing a high encounter probability on several cultivated and non-cultivated plant species.