Simulating effects of environmental factors on biological control of Tetranychus urticae by Typhlodromus pyri in apple orchards

J.M. Hardman, W. van der Werf, S.E. Blatt, J.L. Franklin, R. Karsten, H. Teismann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Successful biological control of mites is possible under various conditions, and identifying what are the requirements for robust control poses a challenge because interacting factors are involved. Process-based modeling can help to explore these interactions and identify under which conditions biological control is likely, and when not. Here, we present a process-based model for population interactions between the phytophagous mite, Tetranychus urticae, and its predator, Typhlodromus pyri, on apple trees. Temperature and leaf nitrogen concentration influence T. urticae rates of development and reproduction, while temperature and rate of ingestion of prey and pollen influence T. pyri rates of survival and reproduction. Predator and prey population dynamics are linked through a stage structured functional response model that accounts for spatial heterogeneity in population density throughout the trees. T. urticae biomass-days (BMD’s), which account for sizes of larvae, nymphs and adults, indicate level of mite-induced leaf damage. When BMD’s exceed 290 per leaf, there are economic losses. When BMD’s exceed 350 per leaf, T. urticae population growth is curbed and eventually the population decreases. Simulations were run to determine which conditions would lead to current year economic loss and increased risk of loss in the following year, i.e. where more T. urticae than T. pyri are present at the end of September. Risk was high with one or more of the following initial conditions: a high prey: predator ratio (10:1 or more); a low to intermediate (0.04–0.2 T. urticae per leaf) initial density; T. urticae with a higher initial proportion of adult females than T. pyri; and a delayed first detection of mites, whether in late July, or sometimes in late June, but not in early June. Warm summer weather, higher leaf nitrogen and T. urticae immigration into trees were also risk factors. Causes for these patterns based on biological characteristics of T. urticae and T. pyri are discussed, as are counter measures which can be taken to reduce risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-203
JournalExperimental and Applied Acarology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • european red mite
  • predator-prey interactions
  • spotted spider-mite
  • panonychus-ulmi
  • ground cover
  • spatial processes
  • predaceous mites
  • systems-analysis
  • life-tables
  • acari


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