Demographics and functional response of Blaptostethus pallescens preying on Tuta absoluta.
In order to enhance the ecofriendly management of Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), we studied the demographics and functional response of Blaptostethus pallescens Poppius on T. absoluta under laboratory conditions. B. pallescens completed its development on the eggs and the first two larval instar of T. absoluta, however the demographic parameters were higher on the prey eggs than on larvae. The predatory bug exhibited a type II functional response to the target prey and the demographic parameters were higher on prey eggs than on larvae. The attack rate increased and the handling time decreased with the advancement of the predator as well as the prey stage. The attack rate was the highest and handling time the lowest for the adult females on the prey eggs. Based on the results of the study, B. pallescens seems to be a promising biocontrol agent of T. absoluta, nevertheless, under field conditions, many biotic and abiotic factors can influence its performance. Hence a proper field evaluation is required before giving the final recommendation.