Faunistic analysis of pest insects and their natural enemies associated with hairy fleabane in soybean crop.
In addition to competing with crops, weeds can provide shelter for arthropods in cropping fields and adjacent areas. This study aimed to investigate the occurrence and population fluctuation of insect pests and their natural enemies associated with hairy fleabane (Conyza spp.), in soybean farming areas. The predominant species were Schizaphis graminum, Taylorilygus apicalis, Empoasca spp. and Nysius simulans. Species that comprise important pest complexes, including stink bugs and caterpillars, can develop on fleabane plants. Among them, the stink bugs Edessa meditabunda, Dichelops spp., Piezodorus guildinii, Nezara viridula and Euschistus heros, as well as the caterpillars Anticarsia gemmatalis, Spodoptera frugiperda, Spodoptera eridania, Chrysodeixis includens and Helicoverpa spp. have prevailed. The most common natural enemies were Orius spp., Eriopis connexa, Cycloneda sanuiinea and Chrysoperla spp. The population fluctuation analysis indicated that hairy fleabane mainly hosted stink bugs at the beginning of the crop cycle and after soybean maturation. The caterpillars, however, use this weed as an alternative host throughout the crop cycle, continuing after soybean maturation and harvesting. For natural enemies species, the population fluctuation depends on the occurrence of insects that serve as a food source for them. Thus, it is possible to conclude that hairy fleabane is an important alternative host for pest insects and their natural enemies in soybean crops.