Conservation biological control can be an effective tactic for minimizing insect-induced damage to agricultural production. In the Arizona cotton system, a suite of generalist arthropod predators provides critical regulation of Bemisia tabaci Gennadius (MEAM1) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) and other pests. Arthropod predator and B. tabaci populations were manipulated with a range of broad-spectrum and selective insecticide exclusions to vary predator to prey interactions in a 2-yr field study. Predator to prey ratios associated with B. tabaci densities near the existing action threshold were estimated for six predator species found to be negatively associated with either adult and/ or large nymphs of B. tabaci [Misumenops celer (Hentz) (Araneae: Thomisidae), Drapetis nr divergens (Diptera: Empididae), Geocoris pallens Stäl (Hemiptera: Geocoridae), Orius tristicolor (White) (Hemiptera: Anthocoridae), Chrysoperla carnea s.l. (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae), and Collops spp. (Coleoptera: Melyridae)] with the first three most consistently associated with declining B. tabaci densities. Ratios ranged from 1 M. celer per 100 sweeps to 1 B. tabaci adult per leaf to 44 D. nr. divergens per 100 sweeps to 1 large nymph per leaf disk. These ratios represent biological control informed thresholds that might serve as simple-to-use decision tool for reducing risk in the current B. tabaci integrated pest management strategy. The identification of key predators within the large, flexible food web of the cotton agro-ecosystem and estimation of predator to B. tabaci ratios clarifies the role of key predators in B. tabaci suppression, yielding potential decision-making advantages that could contribute to further improving economic and environmental sustainability of insect management in the cotton system.
- Biological control informed thresholds
- Conservation biological control
- Integrated pest management
- Predator to prey ratios
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science