Evaluation of the predatory mite, Neoseiulus californicus, for spider mite control on greenhouse sweet pepper under hot arid field conditions

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Abstract

The efficacy of Neoseiulus californicus (a generalist predatory mite) for the biological control of Tetranychus urticae, was compared to release of Phytoseiulus persimilis (a specialist predatory mite) and an acaricide treatment in sweet pepper plants grown in greenhouse tunnels in a hot and arid climate. To ensure uniform pest populations, spider mites were spread on pepper plants in two seasons; a natural infestation occurred in one season. Predators were released prophylactically and curatively in separate tunnels when plants were artificially infested with spider mites, and at low and moderate spider mite populations when infestations occurred naturally. Although spider mite populations did not establish well the first year, fewer spider mites were recovered with release of N. californicus than with all other treatments. In the second year, spider mites established and the prophylactic release of N. californicus compared favorably with the acaricide-treated plants. In the course of monitoring arthropod populations, we observed a significant reduction in western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) populations in tunnels treated with N. californicus as compared with non-treated control tunnels. Our field trials validate results obtained from potted-plant experiments and confirm that N. californicus is a superior spider mite predator at high temperatures and low humidities.

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