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Population Abundance of Frankliniella occidentalis (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) and Natural Enemies on Plant Hosts in Central Chile

Ripa, Renato, Funderburk, Joe, Rodriguez, Fernando, Espinoza, Fernanda, Mound, Laurence
Environmental entomology 2009 v.38 no.2 pp. 333-344
Frankliniella occidentalis, natural enemies, population density, population dynamics, seasonal variation, host plants, flowering, flowers, predatory insects, Orius, predation, parasitoids, insect surveys, Chile
Populations of the invasive Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) are serious pests of agricultural crops in the Aconcagua Valley of central Chile. An extensive survey was conducted of 55 plant species in 24 families to identify plant hosts of F. occidentalis and to determine its relative abundance on each host during each season. A more intensive study was conducted on selected plant species serving as reproductive hosts to determine the population dynamics of F. occidentalis and to evaluate the potential importance of Orius species and other natural enemies for controlling F. occidentalis. Adults of F. occidentalis were active during each season of the year inhabiting the flowers of 91% of the sampled plant species in 22 families, and 86% of these plant species in 19 families served as reproductive hosts. The number of host plant species used was greatest in the spring and least in the winter. All of the hosts except Medicago sativa L. were used only when flowering. Populations of F. occidentalis were significantly aggregated in M. sativa in the terminal buds over the leaves when the host was not flowering, and in the flowers, followed by the terminal buds, followed by the leaves when the host was flowering. Larvae were 1.3-2.3 times more abundant on dates when M. sativa was flowering. There were no identifiable patterns in plant hosts based on endemicity or plant family. Most of the plant species used by F. occidentalis were inferior quality hosts where populations either declined or were stable. Populations of F. occidentalis on low-quality hosts generally escaped predation by Orius species and competition by other species of thrips. Only 25% of the food hosts and 28% of the reproductive hosts for F. occidentalis in the extensive survey, respectively, were host plants for Orius. Parasitoids and other predators were not found to be important in suppressing thrips on any of the plant hosts. Populations of F. occidentalis increased on only a few hosts, including M. sativa and Sisymbrium officinale L. Scop. These apparently are major sources of F. occidentalis adults invading crops. We conclude that F. occidentalis is established in central Chile and that it has replaced and possibly displaced the native Frankliniella australis (Morgan) as the most common thrips species.