Behavioral and biological effects of exposure to Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) sex pheromone on several Trichogramma (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) populations.
Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is one of the most destructive pests of tomato worldwide. Biological control of the pest using Trichogramma (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) wasps can be combined with other practices such as use of synthetic sex pheromones for mating disruption or mass trapping programs. In this study, effects of T. absoluta sex pheromone on behavioral responses and fertility life table parameters of Trichogramma evanescens Westwood (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae), Wolbachia-uninfected (W-) Trichogramma brassicae Bezdenko (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae), and Wolbachia-infected (W+) T. brassicae were investigated under laboratory conditions. Female wasps of T. evanescens and T. brassicae (W+) were attracted to the pest synthetic sex pheromone (around 62%) and calling virgin female moths (around 75%) and their responses were affected by the wasp age and temperature. Exposure to the host synthetic sex pheromone significantly reduced the percentage of adult emergence, longevity, and fecundity of female wasps, as well as the time spent to find a mate and duration of mating. However, tested populations were not affected similarly. Despite the laboratory tests, greenhouse experiments showed that the wasps were not caught in the traps baited with T. absoluta synthetic sex pheromone. Complementary studies are needed to precisely determine possible interference between pheromone application and releasing Trichogramma Westwood (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) wasps to achieve a successful integrated control of T. absoluta.