The combined release of species of generalist predators can enhance multiple pest control when the predators feed on different prey, but, in theory, predators may be excluded through predation on each other. This study evaluated the co-occurrence of the generalist predators Macrolophus pygmaeus Rambur and Orius laevigatus (Fieber) and their control of two pests in a sweet pepper crop. Both predators consume pollen and nectar in sweet pepper flowers, prey on thrips and aphids, and O. laevigatus is an intraguild predator of M. pygmaeus. Observations in a commercial sweet pepper crop in a greenhouse with low densities of pests showed that the two predator species coexisted for 8 months. Moreover, their distributions in flowers suggested that they were neither attracted to each other, nor avoided or excluded each other. A greenhouse experiment showed that the predators together clearly controlled thrips and aphids better than each of them separately. Thrips control was significantly better in the presence of O. laevigatus and aphid control was significantly better in the presence of M. pygmaeus. Hence, combined inoculative releases of M. pygmaeus and O. laevigatus seem to be a good solution for controlling both thrips and aphids in greenhouse-grown sweet pepper. The predators are able to persist in one crop for a sufficiently long period and they complement each other in the control of both pests. This study also provides further evidence that intraguild predation does not necessarily have negative effects on biological control.
- macrolophus-pygmaeus hemiptera
- pepper plants