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Title: Tea: Biological control of insect and mite pests in China

item YE, GONG-YIN - Zhejiang University
item XIAO, QIANG - Tea Research Institute
item CHEN, MAO - Cornell University
item CHEN, XUE-XIN - Zhejiang University
item YUAN, ZHI-JUN - Tea Research Institute
item Stanley, David
item HU, CUI - Zhejiang University

Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/24/2013
Publication Date: 1/30/2014
Citation: Ye, G., Xiao, Q., Chen, M., Chen, X., Yuan, Z., Stanley, D.W., Hu, C. 2014. Tea: Biological control of insect and mite pests in China. Biological Control. 68:73-91.

Interpretive Summary: Tea is the most popular and lowest-cost beverage in the world, second only to water. It is grown in most countries. Tea is grown in very large areas that have become tea ecosystems. At the global level, over 1,000 arthropod species are associated with tea, many of them serious pests that account for about 20% yield losses annually. Some catastrophic pest outbreaks lead to 100% crop losses. Due to environmental concerns and resurgence of pests and because tea is brewed by steeping in hot water, use of classical petroleum-based pesticides, has become problematic. Solutions are based on improving biological control programs. This paper describes contemporary biological control programs, including pest insect behavioral manipulations, vegetation management, cultural control, intercropping with other plants, releasing biological control agents, tea plant resistance and fertilization. The most effective biological control is based on use of insect-specific viruses. The paper proposes an agenda to improve biological control of tea pests that can be developed for tea production at the global level. The agenda calls for fundamental research on viruses, policies that promote use of host plant resistance to pest insects, intercropping other plants with tea, natural products as insecticides and training in these procedures for tea producers. The information and agenda in this paper will benefit producers and consumers of tea throughout the world.

Technical Abstract: Tea is one of the most economically important crops in China. To secure its production and quality conservation biological control within the context of integrated pest management (IPM) has been widely popularized for better control of arthropod pests on tea with less chemical insecticide usage and minimal impact on the environment. More than 1100 species of natural enemies including about 80 species of viruses, 40 species of fungi, 240 species of parasitoids and 600 species of predators, as well as several species of bacteria have been recorded in tea ecosystems in China. Biological and ecological characteristics of some dominant natural enemies have been well documented. Several viral, bacterial, and fungal insecticides have been commercially utilized at large scale in China. Progress in conservation biological control in conjunction with other pest control approaches for tea insect pest management is reviewed in this chapter. Knowledge gaps and future directions for tea pest management are also discussed.