Submitted to: Arthropod-Plant Interactions
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/23/2013
Publication Date: 11/4/2013
Citation: Avery, P.B., Kumar, V., Xiao, Y., Powell, C.A., McKenzie, C.L., Osborne, L.S. 2013. Selecting an ornamental pepper banker plant for Amblyseius swirskii in floriculture crops. Arthropod-Plant Interactions. Available: http://dx.doi: 10.1007/s11829-013-9283-y 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. These ornamental banker plant candidates are in the process of being further evaluated.
Technical Abstract: Preference of phytoseiid mite Amblyseius swirskii (Athias-Henriot) was assessed on four cultivars of ornamental pepper banker plant candidates; Red Missile (RM), Masquerade (MA), Explosive Ember (EE), and Black Pearl (BP) for potential control of pestiferous insects in floriculture. Cultivar preference by A. swirskii in choice experiments using whole plants varied depending on whether the test was pre- (with and without pollen) or during blooming; however, no apparent preference between cultivars was indicated using leaf disks (with and without pollen). Overall, female mites laid more eggs when pollen was provided as a food source. The number of tuft domatia per cultivar leaf appeared to positively influence host preference in the choice plant tests pre-bloom. In the choice plant tests pre-bloom, cultivar RM had the highest mean number of eggs deposited and tuft domatia per leaf, followed by MA, EE and BP. In choice tests on blooming plants, A. swirskii showed preference for both cultivars RM and MA compared to EE. These experiments indicated that the number of tuft domatia and availability of pollen can influence the host preference of A. swirskii for an ornamental pepper banker plant cultivar. Results from this study will help growers, researchers, educators, and extension personnel in understanding the plant phenology promoting adoption of suitable banker plants for managing greenhouse and landscape insect pests.