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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Invasive Species and Pollinator Health » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #239461

Title: Effectiveness of Eriophyid Mites for Biological Control of Weedy Plants and Challenges for Future Research

item Smith, Lincoln - Link
item DELILLO, ENRICO - Bari University
item AMRINE, JR., JAMES - West Virginia University

Submitted to: Experimental and Applied Acarology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/3/2009
Publication Date: 7/1/2010
Citation: Smith, L., Delillo, E., Amrine, Jr., J.W. 2010. Effectiveness of Eriophyid Mites for Biological Control of Weedy Plants and Challenges for Future Research. Experimental and Applied Acarology. 51(1):115-149.

Interpretive Summary: Invasive plants are an increasing global problem that negatively affect our environment and many agricultural systems. Classical biological control, which involves the introduction of host specific herbivores to attack the target weed and bring it under natural control, is an increasingly important tool to help manage exotic invasive weeds. Eriophyid mites are extremely small and difficult to study; however, most are highly host specific. Research shows that there are many undiscovered species, and new species have been discovered on many weeds targeted for biological control. Therefore this group of mites has been considered to be an underutilized source of biological control agents. We reviewed recent and ongoing research using these mites for classical biological control of weeds. There have been several notable successes; however, other projects have revealed limitations and obstacles that must be overcome to acheive acceptable levels of control. We identify areas where future research is needed to help improve our understanding of these mites to enable us to use them more effectively.

Technical Abstract: Eriophyid mites have been considered to have a high potential for use as classical biological control agents of weeds. In the past 20 years 13 species have undergone some degree of pre-release evaluation but only four have been authorized for introduction. Prior to this, three species were successfully introduced, and although they impact the fitness of their host plant, it is not clear how much they have contributed to reduction of the population of the target weed. In some cases, natural enemies, resistant plant genotypes, and adverse abiotic conditions have reduced the ability of eriophyid mites to control target weed populations. Eriophyid mites that are highly coevolved with their host plant may be poor prospects for biological control because of host plant resistance or tolerance of the plant to the mite. Susceptibility of eriophyids to predators and pathogens may also prevent them from achieving population densities necessary to reduce host plant populations. Potentially rapid rates of evolution of eriophyids may increase the rate at which they may lose efficacy or possibly adapt to nontarget host plants. Critical areas for future research include life history, foraging and dispersal behavior, mechanisms controlling host plant specificity, and evolutionary stability of eriophyid mites.