Biological control of mealybugs with lacewing larvae is affected by the presence and type of supplemental prey

Gerben J. Messelink*, Roland Vijverberg, Ada Leman, Arne Janssen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The diversity of prey and food sources in crops has a major effect on biological pest control by generalist predators. In this study, we tested if and how supplemental prey or food affects the control of the citrus mealybug Planococcus citri (Risso) by larvae of the green lacewing Chrysoperla lucasina (Lacroix). The larvae of this predator are the only stage that feed on prey, thus ideally the supplemental food should result in high larval survival but a low developmental rate. Juvenile survival and developmental time of lacewing larvae were measured on various food items, either alone or mixed with mealybugs. Mealybugs were a suboptimal prey: up to 50 % of the lacewing larvae died before they reached the pupal stage and the developmental time was relatively long when feeding exclusively on mealybugs. Mixing mealybugs with supplemental prey increased larval survival, but also reduced larval developmental time and thereby the period in which the larvae could prey on mealybugs. Moreover, adding eggs of Ephestia kuehniella Zeller, which appeared to be of high quality for lacewings, reduced the consumption of mealybugs by lacewing larvae in the laboratory. The addition of the prey mite Acarus siro (L.) also reduced larval mortality, but did not reduce mealybug predation rates by lacewing larvae. Greenhouse trials showed better mealybug control by lacewing larvae with supplemental prey of low quality (prey mites) rather than alternative prey of high quality (Ephestia eggs). In conclusion, biological control of mealybugs by lacewing larvae was strongly affected by the nutritional quality of the supplemental food source.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-565
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Biological control
  • Chrysoperla lucasina
  • Mixed diets
  • Planococcus citri


Dive into the research topics of 'Biological control of mealybugs with lacewing larvae is affected by the presence and type of supplemental prey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this