- Generalist red velvet mite predator (Balaustium sp.) performs better on a mixed diet
- Experimental and Applied Acarology
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Generalist predators have the potential advantage to control more than one pest and to be more persistent than specialist predators because they can survive on different foods. Moreover, their population growth rate may be elevated when offered a mixture of prey species. We studied a generalist predatory mite Balaustium sp. that shows promise for biological control of thrips and whiteflies in protected rose cultures in Colombia. Although starting its life in the soil, this predator makes excursions onto plants where it feeds on various arthropods. We quantified life history parameters of the predator, offering high densities of three pest species: first-instar larvae of Frankliniella occidentalis, eggs of Trialeurodes vaporariorum and Tetranychus urticae, either alone or in combination. The predators completed their life cycle on each diet. The egg-to-egg period was c. 2 months. All eggs were laid in one batch in 1-2 days, indicating a pronounced semelparous reproduction pattern. In general, females reproduced earlier and laid more eggs on mixed diets, and these early reproducers consequently had higher population growth rates than late reproducers. The best diet in terms of egg-to-egg period and juvenile survival was the combination of eggs from whiteflies and spider mites. Spider mite eggs alone and western flower thrips larvae alone were the worst diets. It remains to be investigated whether mixed diets promote the population growth rate of Balaustium sufficiently for biocontrol of whiteflies and thrips in the presence of alternative prey, such as spider mites, to become effective.
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