Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Impact of net houses on the natural regulation of the populations of Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) and Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), two major tomato pests in Kenya.

Abstract

The abandonment of insecticide treatments to achieve sustainable crop production calls for a combination of methods to obtain satisfactory pest control. To this end, net houses and biological control are two promising methods, though we suspected that most natural enemies are blocked outside the net houses. In Kenya, tomato crops are particularly threatened by Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood 1856) and Tuta absoluta (Meyrick, 1917) that are targets of most insecticide treatments in this country. We investigated in an on-farm experiment (i) the abundances of T. vaporariorum and T. absoluta in open fields and in net houses, (ii) the diversity of arthropod natural enemies of these pests, and (iii) the effect of net houses on the natural regulation. To complete, in the laboratory, we checked the capacity of natural enemies to pass through different net types. We identified several natural enemies, mainly the mirid bug Nesidiocoris tenuis (Reuter 1895) that was the most abundant predator for both pests. One parasitoid species was also identified for each pest, i.e. Encarsia formosa Gahan (1924) and Copidosoma sp. for T. vaporariorum and T. absoluta respectively. Net houses reduced drastically the pest populations. Predators were less abundant under net houses, while parasitoids did not seem to be affected by the nets. Encarsia formosa was shown to be able to pass through the different net types, while N. tenuis adults were not. These results raise the potential for augmentative biological control under net houses. Using kairomones to attract natural enemies, or introducing natural enemies under the net houses through inoculative releases, are two approaches to increase the abundance of natural enemies under net houses.