Pre-planting inoculation for early establishment of Dicyphus bolivari and D. errans on tomatoes
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Slow establishment and risks of plant damage are major constraints for the use of the predatory mirid bugs that are commercially available for release in greenhouse crops. Therefore, a new interest has turned towards two predatory Dicyphus species (Heteroptera: Miridae) that have been investigated in
the past but have not been used commercially in augmentative biological control. We assessed their development duration and survival at temperature and day length of summer and winter conditions and assessed the feasibility of pre-planting predator establishment on plant seedlings under those conditions. Dicyphus bolivari (Lindberg) and D. errans (Wolff) nymphs reached the adult stage in 47.4 (winter conditions) and 18.6 days (summer conditions) and 46.0 (winter) and 16.3 days (summer) respectively. They showed more than 90% survival when provided with food (Ephestia eggs). Provision of food allowed females to lay more eggs and to distribute them more evenly among tomato seedlings. No injuries or other negative effects on tomato seedling development were observed. Nymph development time of the two mirid species studied were slightly higher than other commercial mirid predators. The results show great potential of these predatory bugs, which are now being tested under field conditions.