Improving control of duponchelia fovealis (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) by rooting media related strategies

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    Soil-dwelling predatory mites can be very effective as biological control agents against larvae of the lepidopteral pest Duponchelia fovealis. Some growing media were reported to have natural high level and stable populations of predatory mite. The objective of this experiment was to define conditions to establish stable predatory mite populations in the rooting medium and to assess the direct effect of the rooting media on pest development. Eight rooting media were prepared, including a range of degradabilities as measured with the Oxygen Uptake Rate method (OUR). The OUR range was created by mixing peat products, coir dust, bark, perlite, compost and wood fiber. Each treatment was split: half with and half without a commercially used mulch to create a drier top layer. Kalanchoës were grown on these rooting media. After one week soil-dwelling predatory mites (Hypoaspis miles) were added. Adults of the pest Duponchelia fovealis were released during a number of weeks. Both populations were counted. Results show that the OUR range was successfully achieved. The commercial mulch, a cork based fine granulate, reduced the numbers of Duponchelia by 32%. The number of predatory mites was related to the oxygen uptake of the rooting media (R2=0.87). The predatory mite reduced the numbers of Duponchelia larvae on average by 58%. Thus, biological control by soil-dwelling predatory mites can be improved by offering rooting media with an increased degradability as measured by the oxygen uptake rate. The combined effects of using predatory mite and mulch layers are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)203-208
    JournalActa Horticulturae
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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