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Plant with spider-mite prey attract more predatory mites than clean plants under greenhouse conditions

Janssen, A.
Entomologia experimentalis et applicata 1999 v.90 no.2 pp. 191-198
Tetranychus urticae, Phytoseiulus persimilis, Cucumis sativus, predatory mites, searching behavior, odors, volatile compounds, allelochemicals, olfactometers, greenhouses, tritrophic interactions
Although many predators and parasitoids are known to respond to odours produced by plants infested with their prey under laboratory conditions, there are actually few studies that show that this response leads to higher numbers of predators or parasitoids on the plants under natural conditions. Here we study the response of predatory mites (Phytoseiulus persimilis Athias-Henriot, Acari, Phytoseiidae) to odours from cucumber plants infested with two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae Koch, Acari, Tetranychidae) in greenhouse release experiments, where predators were released in the centre of a hexagon of cucumber plants. Forty to 57% of all predators released were recaptured on plants within 7 h. Of these, an average of 79.5% were found on infested plants, indicating that these attract about 4 times as many predators as do clean plants. Hence, the blind predatory mites were guided to the plants with prey by herbivore-induced odours produced by the plant, as was indicated by olfactometer experiments, where it was found that P. persimilis preferred odours from infested cucumber plants to odours from clean cucumber plants. The long-range searching behaviour of P. persimilis is discussed.