Eur. J. Entomol. 106 (3): 369-378, 2009 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2009.047

Heteropterans as aphid predators in inter-mountain alfalfa

Xavier PONS, BelÚn LUMBIERRES, Ramon ALBAJES
University of Lleida, Department of Crop and Forest Sciences, Centre UdL-IRTA, Rovira Roure 191, 25198 Lleida, Spain;

The relationships between predatory Heteroptera and their potential prey species were investigated during two crop seasons in an inter-mountain area close to the Pyrenees (Iberian Peninsula). Regression was used to analyze the potential numerical responses shown by heteropterans to aphids and other potential prey during alfalfa intercuts (the plant growth period between cuts) of high aphid occurrence. The most abundant heteropterans were Orius spp., Nabis spp. and mirids, and all were present in alfalfa stands throughout the season. Acyrthosiphon pisum was the prevalent species during the 2nd intercut, Therioaphis trifolii during the 4th and Aphis craccivora during the 5th. We performed simple regression analysis between the Orius sp., Nabis sp. and mirids and the prevalent aphid species, forward multiple regression analysis between heteropterans and all possible soft-bodied prey species; and both analyses for coccinellids, as relative aphid predator specialists. The heteropterans responded numerically to A. pisum but not to T. trifolii or A. craccivora. Heteropterans also showed numerical responses to other potential prey (leafhoppers, thrips, and other soft bodied prey) that remained at low densities throughout the season. All these preys may contribute to the presence of heteropterans in alfalfa stands throughout the season. The results suggest that heteropterans may contribute to reduce A. pisum, particularly at the beginning of the growing season, and on other potential pests when they invade or recolonize alfalfa, and may help to delay or prevent the build-up of these pest populations.

Keywords: Orius, Nabis, mirids, Therioaphis trifolii, Acyrthosiphon pisum, Aphis craccivora, predators, coccinellids, numerical responses

Received: January 29, 2009; Accepted: April 6, 2009; Published: July 24, 2009

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