Biological Control Potential and Drawbacks of Three Zoophytophagous Mirid Predators against Bemisia tabaci in the United States
United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine, Science and Technology, Miami, FL 33158, USA
Department of Entomology and Nematology, Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Immokalee, FL 34142, USA
Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA), Centro de Protección Vegetal y Biotecnología, Unidad de Entomología, Carretera CV-315, Km 10′7, 46113 Moncada, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 September 2020 / Revised: 24 September 2020 / Accepted: 26 September 2020 / Published: 1 October 2020
The silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, is a serious economic pest of tomatoes, particularly as this insect can carry devastating plant diseases. Growers currently rely on costly insecticides and biocontrol agents may offer a viable alternative in the integrated pest management of tomatoes. We studied one established and two native omnivorous plant bugs’ (mirids) ability to control whiteflies, whether they damaged tomato plants, and their ability to persist in the crop. Established biocontrol agents have advantages as they typically have little impact on non-target native species, they have adapted to the local environment and are less expensive than importing and testing exotic agents. In field cage studies, all three species controlled whiteflies. However, the damage the mirids caused to tomato plants varied greatly. We also tested whether an alternate host plant, sesame, could increase mirid numbers and reduce plant damage. These experiments showed that the benefits of sesame varied among the mirid species. Although not all established generalist mirids would be suited for use as biocontrol agents, this study showed that two of USA’s mirid species could be immediately available to help manage existing and future invasive pests of tomato.