Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/10/2012
Publication Date: 11/26/2012
Citation: Xiao, Y., Avery, P.B., Chen, J., McKenzie, C., Osborne, L. 2012. Ornamental pepper as banker plants for establishment of Amblyseius swirskii (Acari: Phytoseiidae) for biological control of multiple pests in greenhouse vegetable production. Biological Control. 63:279-286. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2012.09.007. Interpretive Summary: Banker plant systems consist of a plant that directly or indirectly provides resources, such as food or prey, to natural enemies that are deliberately released within a cropping system for suppressing the insect pest population. Survival and establishment of natural enemies on banker plants is tantamount and a key component to a successful biocontrol strategy for long-term suppression of insect pests in floriculture crops. Selectivity factors and host preference of Amblyseius swirskii were determined on ornamental pepper banker plant candidates for control of insect pests in floriculture and landscapes. Three of the ornamental pepper varieties evaluated (Red Missile, Masquerade, and Explosive Ember) all supported a high number of the predator A. swirskii for suppressing populations of pestiferous insects in cropping systems.
Technical Abstract: Selectivity factors and host preference of Amblyseius swirskii were determined on ornamental pepper banker plant candidates for control of insect pests in floriculture and landscapes. Cultivar selectivity and preference by the gravid female Amblyseius swirskii (Athias-Henriot) between ornamental pepper banker plant candidates, Red Missile (RM), Masquerade (MA), Explosive Ember (EE), and Black Pearl (BP) was assessed in one no-choice and three choice experiments. No preference was indicated using leaf disks. Female mites laid more eggs (with pollen) in leaf disk and plant pre-bloom studies. In choice tests pre-bloom, significance of tuft domatia per cultivar was RM >MA >EE >BP. In Experiment 1 (0.8-2.1 thrips / plant), A. swirskii showed preference for both RM and MA compared to EE. In Experiment 2 (32-50 thrips / plant), no host preference was apparent. However, with data combined, preference for RM and MA was evident. Thus, host preference was influenced primarily by the plant characteristics i.e. tuft domatia, pollen, not pest presence. A. swirskii demonstrated preference for cultivar RM pre-bloom (with pollen was available in a Petri dish at the bottom of the pot) and both RM and MA post-bloom. The three pepper varieties RM, MA and EE post-bloom, all supported a high number of the predator A. swirskii for suppressing populations of pestiferous insects in cropping systems.