Botanical insecticide and natural enemies: a potential combination for pest management against Tuta absoluta.
The development of new strategies to control pest insects is required, in combination with conventional pesticides or replacing them. Essential oils produced from botanical extracts used in management programs should be effective against pests and selective to natural enemies. Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is one of the most destructive pests of solanaceous crops in the world, and a possible management strategy consists of releases of the predator Nesidiocoris tenuis (Hemiptera: Miridae), along with botanical applications. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of Prev-am® oil on T. absoluta offspring, either with or without the predator N. tenuis, as well as the oil's effects on N. tenuis predatory behavior and longevity. The oil's effects were compared with distilled water (control) and a synthetic pesticide (lambda-cyhalothrin). The response of populations to lambda-cyhalothrin was similar to that with Prev-am®, compared to the control, showing that N. tenuis had higher capacity to reduce T. absoluta populations. The survival analysis of predators exposed to Prev-am® indicates that none of the concentrations differed significantly from the control. In addition, the canonical variate analysis indicated significant overall differences in the predator behavior submitted to different treatments, suggesting that synthetic pesticide treatment affected predator behavior when compared to control and Prev-am®. Reduction in predatory voracity of N. tenuis adults exposed to leaves treated with pesticide and biopesticide was significant compared to the control treatment. The results obtained could improve IPM programs against T. absoluta through the Prev-am® applications and N. tenuis releases.