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Evaluation of the local population of Eretmocerus mundus (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae) for biological control of Bemisia tabaci biotype B (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) in greenhouse peppers in Argentina

López, Silvia Noemí, Andorno, Andrea V.
Biological control 2009 v.50 no.3 pp. 317-323
Bemisia tabaci, sweet peppers, insect pests, parasitoids, Capsicum annuum, biological control agents, greenhouse experimentation, plant pests, Eretmocerus mundus, nymphs, natural enemies, population dynamics, imagos, biological control, Argentina
Bemisia tabaci biotype B is a key pest in pepper crops in Argentina. The parasitoid Eretmocerus mundus is frequently found parasitizing this whitefly in greenhouses without pesticide applications. The present studies were carried out with the objective of evaluating control obtained with different rate and number of parasitoid releases under experimental conditions. Release rate: cages with pepper pots were positioned in an experimental greenhouse and randomly assigned to the release rate treatments (0, 1 and 3 pairs of E. mundus/plant/week with a total of three introductions). Number of releases: similar cages were assigned to the number of parasitoid introduction treatments (0, 1, 2 and 3) with the best release rate obtained in the previous trial. In both assays whitefly (adults and nymphs) and parasitoid (parasitized nymphs) population sizes in each cage were monitored weekly for a period of 10 weeks. Results suggested that the introduction of 2 E. mundus/plant/week was enough to suppress host population compared to control treatment (peaks of 7.75 adults and 58.75 nymphs/cage and 643.75 adults and 1598 nymphs/cage, respectively) (p < 0.05), with 85% of parasitism. E. mundus had to be introduced three times to achieve the best pest control (peaks of 1.17 adults and 20.33 nymphs/cage vs. 55.67 adults and 75 nymphs/cage in control treatment) with 84% of parasitism (p < 0.05). These results were then validated in a pepper crop under experimental greenhouse conditions. Whitefly population was lower in those greenhouses where E. mundus was released compared to control greenhouses (0.15 adults and 0.71 nymphs/4 leaves and 0.73 adults and 1.64 nymphs/4 leaves, respectively), with a peak of 54% of parasitism (p < 0.05). We concluded that good suppression of B. tabaci could be achieved using E. mundus under spring conditions in Argentina.