Pre-established Macrolophus pygmaeus populations reduce Nesidiocoris tenuis population growth in tomato
Abstract: In South-Europe, Nesidiocoris tenuis is used as a biocontrol organism against Tuta
absoluta, whiteflies and other pests in tomato greenhouses. However, in Northwest-Europe, N. tenuis is considered a pest. When N. tenuis densities get high and prey is scarce, N. tenuis feeds on plant material, causing necrotic rings on the stems, flower abortion and fruit damage. Ultimately, this results in yield losses. Until now, reliable, biological control of N. tenuis is not yet possible. The goal of our research was to investigate whether a pre-established Macrolophus pygmaeus population is able to reduce or prevent N. tenuis population growth. We found that a large, pre-established M. pygmaeus population is able to strongly reduce N. tenuis population growth and associated damage. These findings indicate that investing in a large M. pygmaeus population at the beginning of the tomato growing season helps mitigate N. tenuis population growth, resulting in less damage caused by N. tenuis.