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Vulnerability of Bemisia tabaci immatures to phytoseiid predators: Consequences for oviposition and influence of alternative food

Nomikou, M., Janssen, A., Schraag, R., Sabelis, M.W.
Entomologia experimentalis et applicata 2004 v.110 no.2 pp. 95-102
Bemisia tabaci, diet, oviposition, biological control agents, predatory mites, predation, feeding behavior, immatures, pollen, predator-prey relationships
An earlier study showed that two phytoseiid species, Euseius scutalis (Athias-Henriot) and Typhlodromips swirskii (Athias-Henriot) (Acari: Phytoseiidae), are capable of suppressing populations of Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Hemiptera: Aleurodidae) on isolated cucumber plants supplied with Typha latifolia L. pollen. However, the predators did not exterminate their prey, and this may be caused by the existence of invulnerable B. tabaci stages. Little is known of the differential vulnerability of the immature B. tabaci stages. Here, we quantified their vulnerability by assessing the rate of predation on each of the immature stages when offered alone at a density high enough to allow for a maximal predation rate. All immature stages of B. tabaci were vulnerable to predation by each of the two predator species. However, the per capita predation rates, the oviposition rates of phytoseiids, as well as the percentage of predators feeding and the percentage ovipositing decreased with increasing stages of B. tabaci. Compared to that of eggs and 1st instars, the vulnerability of 2nd and later B. tabaci instars is an order of magnitude lower. To investigate how the presence of alternative food changes the rates of predation, we added pollen to a diet of 1st instars, one of the most vulnerable instars. This resulted in a decrease in the predation rate of E. scutalis, but not of T. swirskii, while the oviposition rate of both phytoseiid species remained equally high. The decreased predation of the 1st instars probably resulted from E. scutalis switching to pollen feeding.