Eocanthecona furcellata (Wolff) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae), a potential biocontrol agent of the black inch worm, Hyposidra talaca Walker (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) infesting tea.
Field observations were made to find out seasonal abundance of Eocanthecona furcellata (Wolff) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) a predatory bug of an invasive pest, the black inch worm, Hyposidra talaca Walker (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) in tea ecosystem. The trend of population study revealed that E. furcellata was abundant throughout the cropping period, with peaks during June to September. Investigations were also carried out on the biology and predatory efficiency of E. furcellata on the larvae of H. talaca. The fecundity of the predatory bug was recorded as 276.6 ± 15.8 eggs/female. The incubation period was 7.0 ± 1.0 days, total nymphal development period 21.8 ± 0.7 days and adult longevity was 30.8 ± 1.9 days. Construction of life table of E. furcellata by rearing the tea looper H. talaca indicated that, the life table parameters like, intrinsic rate of natural increase (rm) was 0.149, net reproductive rate (Ro) was 218.14 eggs/female, gross reproduction rate (Σmx) was 244.69, generation time (T) 35.49 d, doubling time (DT) 4.63 d and finite rate of increase (λ) was 1.161. The adult female consumed 10.2 ± 0.8 s instar looper in 'no-choice' condition, whereas in 'free- choice' condition the consumption was 9.8 ± 1.1 second instar and 5.4 ± 1.1 fifth instar larvae of H. talaca per day. The impact of commonly used pesticides on the predator indicated varying degree of mortality on nymphs and adults after 24 h of exposure. Hence, E. furcellata could effectively be utilized in the IPM programme envisaged for tea for effective management of H. talaca.