Predatory ability of generalist predators on eggs, young nymphs and adults of the invasive Halyomorpha halys in Southern Europe.
Halyomorpha halys (Stål, 1855) is an invasive pest causing serious damage to agricultural crops in Europe and the USA. Very little is known about H. halys predators in Europe. This survey evaluated the potential of generalist predators/omnivorous species by means of predation bioassays in tri-dimensional arenas, where the predator had to locate H. halys prey items on the leaves of a bean plant. Eleven species of different taxa were tested and the prey items consisted in fresh eggmasses, 1st and 2nd instar nymphs. One species was also tested against adults. Some predators were species commercially available as biocontrol agents against plant pests, other predators were wild, captured in habitats shared with H. halys. All tested specimens were starved 24 h before starting the experiment. The survivorship of control prey items in predator-excluding cages was compared to that of predator treatment groups to determine the effect of predator presence. According to the results, the generalist species showed a quite low acceptance of H. halys prey items, since only two species caused 80% mortality on at least one item (Eupholidoptera chabrieri and Rhynocoris iracundus) and mortality due the other species never exceed 60%. Among commercially available species only Adalia bipunctata adults and Chrysoperla carnea larvae were effective, predating the eggs and 1st instar nymphs, respectively. Among the field collected specimens, the orthopteran E. chabrieri and the predatory hemipterans R. iracundus, Nagusta goedelii and Himacerus mirmicoides showed efficacy against 1st instar nymphs, E. chabrieri and R. iracundus showed efficacy against 2nd instar nymphs, whereas only E. chabrieri and N. goedelii predated the eggs. R. iracundus was also tested on the adults and successfully predated them. By identifying some of the species that can exploit H. halys as a suitable prey in southern Europe, the present investigation provides an important contribution for conservation biological control of this pest.