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Development of a biological control-based Integrated Pest Management method for Bemisia tabaci for protected sweet pepper crops

Calvo, F.J., Bolckmans, K., Belda, J.E.
Entomologia experimentalis et applicata 2009 v.133 no.1 pp. 9-18
Amblyseius swirskii, Bemisia tabaci, Eretmocerus mundus, Nesidiocoris tenuis, biological control, biological control agents, crops, integrated pest management, parasitic wasps, pesticide application, predatory mites, sweet peppers, Spain
The tobacco whitefly, Bemisia tabaci Gennadius (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae), is a key pest in commercial sweet pepper crops in southeast Spain. Its biological control is currently based on augmentative introductions of the parasitic wasp Eretmocerus mundus Mercet (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae), which need to be occasionally supplemented with pesticide applications. These pesticides can be harmful for the biological control agents. Therefore, it is important to improve the current strategy by reducing dependency on pesticides. Two potential solutions are conceivable: addition of another effective biocontrol agent or application of pesticide prior to the release of biocontrol agents. The mirid bug Nesidiocoris tenuis Reuter (Heteroptera: Miridae) and the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii Athias-Henriot (Acari: Phytoseiidae) are promising candidates as additional biocontrol agents. The aim of the present study was to test these possible solutions in two subsequent trials, i.e., a 'selection' and an 'improvement' experiment. In the selection experiment, four treatments were compared: E. mundus, N. tenuis + E. mundus, A. swirskii + E. mundus, and A. swirskii + N. tenuis + E. mundus. Amblyseius swirskii appeared able to significantly increase effectiveness against the pest, in contrast to N. tenuis, which did not contribute to whitefly control. The best strategy was the combination of E. mundus and A. swirskii. In the improvement experiment, three treatments were compared: E. mundus, A. swirskii + E. mundus, and A. swirskii + E. mundus + pesticides. Amblyseius swirskii again proved capable of significantly reducing whitefly populations, and the implementation of pesticides before the release of the biocontrol agents was shown to increase the effectiveness against the pest even more.