Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2014
Publication Date: 6/1/2014
Citation: Kumar, V., Wekesa, V., Avery, P.B., Powell, C.A., McKenzie, C.L., Osborne, L. 2014. Effect of different ornamental pepper pollen on the development and reproduction of Amblyseius swirskii (Acari: Phytoseiidae). Florida Entomologist. 97(2):367-373 Interpretive Summary: Banker plants are used in biological control of pests as store houses for predatory insects or mites, but can be limited in their effectiveness if prey is not readily available. In order to support survival and long-term establishment of biological control agents, it is important to provide a continuous source of nutrition, especially in the absence of their prey. In the current study we evaluated pollen of four different ornamental pepper banker plant candidates as a nutritional supplement to support survival, development and reproduction of a commercially available predatory mite. The predatory mite successfully completed their life cycle and oviposited on all four pollen varieties and was comparable to chilli thrips (target prey pest). Results from this study can help in further screening of these four pepper varieties to be used as an efficient banker plant for establishment of predatory mites in ornamental nurseries.
Technical Abstract: Chilli thrips, Scirtothrips dorsalis Hood (Thysanoptera: Thripidae), a newly introduced pest in the United States is well known to cause significant economic damage on a variety of crops worldwide. In Florida, it has emerged as a key pest of ornamental and vegetable crops. Chemical control is still considered as a primary mode for its control. The rationale behind the current study was to assess if the phytoseiid mite, Amblyseius swirskii (Athias-Henriot), a commercially available predator of S. dorsalis can survive and reproduce by solely feeding on a variety of ornamental pepper pollens. In order to evaluate nutritional value and the possible impact on longevity, daily rate of oviposition and total egg deposition was assessed. A. swirskii was reared on pollen collected from four ornamental pepper varieties, viz. Red Missile, Masquarade, Black Pearl and Explosive Ember - potential banker plant candidates for ornamental nurseries. A. swirskii was able to survive, develop and oviposit on all the ornamental pepper pollen varieties tested and the two standard controls (commercially available olive pollen and S. dorsalis). No significant differences were observed among the different diet treatments for the following A. swirskii biological parameters: mean longevity (22.7-24.2 d), larvae to eggs (11.8 -12.6 d) and duration of adult stage (12.4-13.2 d). Amongst the pepper pollens, the highest daily rate of oviposition (~1.07 eggs/female/day) and total oviposition (~10.23 eggs/female) was recorded on the Red Missile variety. Results from this study can aide in the selection of suitable pepper varieties as candidate banker plants for establishment of A. swirskii in ornamental nurseries and can boost the management strategies being used against S. dorsalis and other pest species.