Biocontrol of persea mite, Oligonychus perseae, with an exotic spider mite predator and an indigenous pollen feeder

Yonatan Maoz, Shira Gal, Yael Argov, Moshe Coll, Eric Palevsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

To improve the biological control of persea mite (Oligonychus perseae) in Israeli avocado orchards we evaluated two approaches: (1) Augmentative inundative releases in commercial orchards of Neoseiulus californicus, an exotic spider mite predator, and (2) Conservation of Euseius scutalis, the prevalent indigenous phytoseiid predator found in avocado orchards, by pollen provisioning. The latter was done at three spatial scales; leaf discs, seedlings and trees. Neoseiulus californicus releases led to a significant reduction in persea mite population densities. Nonetheless, most of the recovered predators consisted of E. scutalis. The leaf disc experiment showed that E. scutalis can significantly reduce persea mite populations even though it cannot penetrate or tear the mite nests. The seedling experiments demonstrated that E. scutalis can suppress persea mite when pollen is available and provisioning maize pollen substantially increased E. scutalis populations. Field trials revealed that conservation of E. scutalis using Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) as a windborne pollen provisioning cover crop (WPPCC) was highly effective, compared to repeated artificial pollen applications. Densities of phytoseiid populations were significantly higher on trees adjacent to the Rhodes grass patches than on distant trees, whereas persea mite populations on trees adjacent to these patches were consistently lower. In this study, we show that the use of Rhodes grass as a WPPCC for conservation of E. scutalis is both effective and sustainable. While our results indicate that E. scutalis has potential for mite control, future studies are needed to demonstrate the efficacy of this approach in commercial orchards.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)147-157
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Control
Volume59
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the avocado growers of the kibbutz farms Rosh Haniqra , Hanita, Yechiam, Gaaton, Beit Haemeq, Yodfat, Hagoshrim, Dalia, Ein Hahoresh and Negba, for the use of their plots, assistance and full cooperation. We express our gratitude to Dr. Hillary Voet for her statistical guidance and to Yehonatan Izhar, Dr. Miriam Zilberstein, Jonathan Abrahams and Danny Rinehartz for their invaluable assistance in conducting the field trials. This work was partly supported by the Israeli Plant Production and Marketing Board and the Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, research project131-1195-10. This manuscript is a contribution of the Institute of Plant Protection, Volcani Center, ARO, Israel.

Keywords

  • Alternative food
  • Avocado
  • Cover crop
  • Euseius scutalis
  • Neoseiulus californicus
  • Oligonychus perseae
  • Pollen

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