Change in behavioral response to herbivore-induced plant volatiles in a predatory mite population

M. Dicke, C. Schuette, H. Dijkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Damage by herbivorous spider mites induces plants to produce volatiles that attract predatory mites that consume the spider mites. A clear attraction to volatiles from Lima bean plants infested with the spider mite Tetranychus urticae has been consistently reported during more than 15 years for the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis. We have monitored the response to volatiles from spider-mite infested Lima bean plants for a laboratory population of the predatory mite from 1991 to 1995 on a regular basis. A reduction in the level of attraction in the laboratory population of P. persimilis was recorded in mid-1992. The attraction of the laboratory population was weaker than that of a commercial population in the latter part of 1992, but the responses of these two populations were similarly weak in 1994 and 1995. Therefore, a behavioral change has also occurred in this commercial population. Experiments were carried out to address the potential causes of this change in attraction. The attraction of predators from a commercial population with a strong response decreased after being reared in our laboratory. Within a predator population with a low degree of attraction, strongly responding predators were present and they could be isolated on the basis of their behavior: predators that stayed on spider-mite infested plants in the rearing set-up had a strong attraction, while predators that had dispersed from the rearing set-up were not attracted to prey-infested bean plants. From our laboratory population with a low degree of attraction, isofemale lines were initiated and maintained for more than 20 generations. All isofemale lines exhibited a consistently strong attraction to spider mite-induced plant volatiles, similar to the attraction recorded for several populations in the past 15 years. Neither in a population with a strong attraction nor in two with a weak attraction was the response of the predators affected by a starvation period of 1–3 hr. Based on these results, possible causes for the observed reduction in predator attraction to spider mite-induced bean volatiles are discussed. The predatory mite P. persimilis is a cornerstone of biological control in many crops worldwide. Therefore, the change in foraging behavior recorded in this predator may have serious consequences for biological control of spider mites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1497-1514
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Acari
  • Behavior modification
  • Disease
  • Foraging behavior
  • Isofemale lines
  • Long- distance orientation
  • Olfactometer
  • Phytoseiidae
  • Phytoseiulus persimilis
  • Variation


Dive into the research topics of 'Change in behavioral response to herbivore-induced plant volatiles in a predatory mite population'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this