How does a predator find its prey? Nesidiocoris tenuis is able to detect Tuta absoluta by HIPVs.
The Zoophytophagous predator, Nesidiocoris tenuis (Reuter) (Hemiptera: Miridae) is one of the most important candidates for controlling Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in tomato crops. This predator uses different signals including morphological plant traits, prey insects, and volatile substances produced by the infested plants and prey signals to find its suitable prey. These signals are different in each cultivar of a plant. We aimed to understand how N. tenuis finds its prey using volatiles from tomato plants damaged or infested with T. absoluta. The predator's responses to various plant treatments on two cultivars of tomato plants were tested in a flight tunnel and a four-choice olfactometer. The volatile compounds released from the treatments were also collected and identified. The results of the olfactory experiments showed that the predators even in the absence of light chose the plants bearing their insect prey. This behavior was not the same in both cultivars, and N. tenuis had a tendency toward mechanically damaged of Early Urbana Y cultivar more than Cal JN3 cultivar. The differences in the amount of monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and eugenol between cultivars may play a role in the differential attraction of N. tenuis towards infested plants. The difference in the volatile compounds was evident in two cultivars, and this was consistent with our bioassay results. Therefore, the choice of appropriate cultivar and use of herbivore-infested plant volatiles are important for developing a control strategy against T. absoluta and attract its predators.