Evaluation of four phytoseiid species as potential biological control agents of the tomato russet mite Aculops lycopersici (Acari: Eriophyidae)
Abstract: Biological control has been applied successfully in many crops against herbivorous
pests, but natural enemies to not establish equally well in all crops. The presence of plant traits that adversely affect predators is one of the main impediments for predator establishment in these crops. Tomato is a hostile host for many predators predominantly because of its glandular trichomes which produce and accumulate toxins and exude sticky substances. In the present study, three indigenous phytoseiid species (Amblyseius andersoni, Phytoseius finitimus, Typhlodromus reckii) collected from tomato fields, and Amblyseius swirskii collected from tomato trap plants where evaluated as potential biological control agents of the tomato russet mite Aculops lycopersici. Prey consumption, as well oviposition and survival of the adult female predators in the presence or not of alternative food (Typha angustifolia pollen) were evaluated under laboratory conditions in tomato leaf discs. Our results show that the highest prey consumption rates as well as oviposition were recorded for A. andersoni and A. swirskii. In all cases, the provision of supplementary food source had a positive effect on oviposition. These initial results are followed by small-scale experiments in which the population dynamics of the tomato russet mite and the different predators are evaluated.