Zoophytophagous predators of the family Miridae (Heteroptera), which feed both on plant and prey, often maintain a close relationship with certain host plants. In this study, we aimed to select a suitable mirid predatory bug for aphid control in sweet pepper. Four species were compared: Macrolophus pygmaeus (Rambur), Dicyphus errans (Wolff), Dicyphus tamaninii Wagner and Deraeocoris pallens (Reuter). They were assessed on their establishment on sweet pepper plants with and without supplemental food (eggs of the flour moth Ephestia kuehniella Zeller and decapsulated cysts of the brine shrimp Artemia franciscana Kellogg) and on their effects on aphids with releases before and after aphid infestations. None of the predator species was able to control an established population of aphids on sweet pepper plants; however, the predators M. pygmaeus and D. tamaninii could successfully reduce aphid populations when released prior to an artificially introduced aphid infestation. The best results were achieved with M. pygmaeus in combination with a weekly application of supplemental food. Hence, our results demonstrate that the order and level of plant colonization by mirid predators and aphids determines how successful biological control is. Further studies are needed to evaluate the performance of mirid predatory bugs in sweet pepper crops in commercial greenhouses with multiple pests and natural enemies, in particular to understand how increased variation in food sources affects their feeding behaviour and preferences.
- frankliniella-occidentalis thysanoptera
- heteroptera miridae
- thrips thysanoptera
- host plants