Prey consumption of four bug predators feeding on




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C.Q. Ruan C. Sengonca  B. Liu


Prey consumption of four bug predators feeding on Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (Thysanoptera : Thripidae)


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Abstract In present study, prey consumption was determined and compared for the four predatory bug species Geocoris ochropterus Fieber, Orius similis Zheng, Montandoniola moraguesi (Puton) and Scipinia subula Hsiao & Ren, in order to reveal their potential use in biological control of Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (Thysanoptera : Thripidae). The prey consumption was examined daily throughout the predator’s entire development of nymphal instars and the first 15 days after adult emergence, with second instar larvae (L2) of F. occidentalis as a prey at a temperature of 25 oC in laboratory. In total, G. ochropterus consumed during its entire nymphal development a total mean of 250.6 (♂), 289.8 (♀) thrips/predator, significantly highest among the tested predatory bug species. The total prey consumption by M. moraguesi during the entire nymphal development was averaged 81.0 (♂), 85.7 (♀) thrips/predator, significantly higher than that of O. similis (51.3 and 59.6 thrips/predator for male and female respectively). S. subula could not complete entire nymphal development. For the total prey consumption by the adult predator over the 15-day-period after adult emergence, G. ochropterus consumed a total mean of 217.0 (♂), 221.0 (♀) thrips/predator, significantly highest among the all tested predatory bug species in the experiment. Adult M. moraguesi consumed a total mean of 58.4 (♂), 53.6 (♀) thrips/predator, similar to the prey consumption of adult O. similis (48.2 and 50.8 thrips/predator for male and female respectively). Adult S. subula consumed a mean total of 24 (♂), 18.6 (♀) thrips/predator, and suffered high mortality by feeding on the thrips. Analysis showed that daily prey consumption of G. ochropterus was significantly higher than O. similis and M. moraguesi. While S. subula daily consumed few thrips and died eventually after the predator grew into N5. On the basis of daily prey consumption with F. occidentalis as prey, G. ochropterus proved to be a superior predator over the other three predatory bug species.


Keywords Frankliniella occidentalis  prey consumption  Geocoris ochropterusOrius similisMontandoniola moraguesiScipinia subula


1 Introduction

The western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande), is a polyphagous pest and has spread around the world from North America (Strassen 1986). By sucking up plant nutrients and transmitting viral pathogens to host plants (Marullo and Mound 2001), the pest thrips causes direct and indirect damage to 219 plant species belonging to 59 genera (Brdsgaard 1989, Dijken et al. 1994). Because of its broad range of host plants and its short life cycle with high reproduction (Frey 1990), F. occidentalis often caused overwhelming loss (Blaeser et al. 2004). Conventional chemical usually could not lead to desirable control of F. occidentalis, because the pest thrips prefers to live inside flower structures (Bene & Gargani 1989) and develops rapidly high resistance to some commonly used insecticides (Zhao et al. 1994; Kontsedalov et al. 1998). Biological control was suggested to be a promising strategy in controlling F. occidentalis (Jacobson 1997; Dekeyzer 2001).

In order to develop desirable biological control against F. occidentalis, studies had been conducted on some predatory species, such as Orius sp. (Heteroptera: Anthocoridae) (Lichtenauer and Sell 1993; Blaeser et al. 2004), Dicyphus tamaninii Wagner (Heteroptera: Miridae) (Castañé et al. 1996; Blaeser et al. 2003), predatory thrips of the family Aeolothripidae (Zugula et al. 2003) as well as predatory mite species (Blaeser and Sengonca 2001; Sengonca et al. 2004). However, the tested natural enemies had contributed little in controlling F. occidentalis, and consequently were not integrated into biological control program (Sengonca et al. 2004). More investigations were needed to find effective biological control agents agents against F. occidentalis.

Scipinia subula (Heteroptera : Reduviidae), Geocoris ochropterus (Heteroptera : Lygaeidae), Orius similis (Heteroptera:Anthocoridae) and Montandoniola moraguesi (Heteroptera:Anthocoridae) were abundant in fields in southern China. They were polyphagous predatory bugs to prey thrips pests. It was lack of knowledge about these predatory bugs as biological control agents against F. occidentalis. The present laboratory work was aimed to investigate prey consumption of the tested four predatory bug species with F. occidentalis as a prey at a temperature of 25 oC. All these investigations could be helpful to reveal their role in controlling thrips pest in the agricultural ecosystem and enriched biological agents for control of F. occidentalis.


2 Materials and methods

The predatory bug species tested in the present experiments were obtained from the fields in Fuzhou City of the southern China, where S. subula was collected from the plantation of Garden Balsam Impatiens balsamina Linn, G. ochropterus from the soybean plantation, O. similis from the cucumber plantation and M. moraguesi from the banyan tree Ficus microcarpa L.. They were reared in the separate meshed cages (80×50×60 cm), for S. subula with Aphid fabae as a prey in broad bean as a host plant, for the other three predatory bug species with F. occidentalis as a prey in cotton as a host plant. The cages were held in the climatic chamber at 25±1 oC temperature, 60±10% RH and 16:8 h (L:D) photoperiod. The prey was added every two days, and the host plants were replaced when needed.

To obtain freshly hatched nymphs of each predatory bug species for experiment, round Plexiglas cages (11 cm diameter× 3 cm height) with a meshed hole in the lid were prepared. The cages were filled with 0.5 cm thick agar gel layer. The leaves of host plants, such as cucumber plantlet (Cucumis sativus L. cv. “Tanja” ) or bean plantlet (Phaseolos vulgaris L. cv. Marona leaf ), were placed upside down onto the agar gel layer. The adult females and males of the predatory bug species were taken from the stock cultures, transferred onto the host plant leaves in each cage for egg laying. Aphid fabae was offered as a prey for S. subula, while F. occidentalis for the other three predatory bug species. After 24 h, the adult predators were removed and the eggs laid in the cages were incubated at 25 oC temperature. The development of the eggs was monitored daily till the nymphs hatched from the eggs. The freshly hatched nymphs were collected to use in experiments.

To obtain freshly emerged female and male of each predatory species, their nymphs in 5th instar were transferred from the stock culture into the cages, and reared with Aphid fabae as prey for S. subula and with F. occidentalis as a prey for the other predatory bug species. The development of the nymphs was daily monitored till the adult emergence. The adults, which emerged on the same day, were collected and identified for their sex under binocular microscope. They were used in experiment.

To obtain the uniformed second instar larvae (L2) of F. occidentalis required for the experiments, its adult females were collected from the stock culture, which was exclusively reared on bean plantlet in a climatic chamber, and transferred onto the bean leaves in the cages. After 24 h, the thrips adults were removed and the laid eggs were further fostered for 8-9 days in an incubator at 25±1 oC temperature, 60±10% RH and 16:8 h (L:D) photoperiod.

All experiments were carried out in a kind of arena at 25±1 oC temperature, 60±10% RH and 16:8 h (L:D) photoperiod. The arena was developed from the round Plexiglas cages (3.6 cm diameter × 1.5 cm height) with a meshed hole in the lid for aeration. The cages were filled with 0.5 cm thick agar gel layer, onto which leaves of host plant were placed upside down.

To determine the developmental period of the predatory bug species, the freshly hatched nymphs (N1) of G. ochropterus, S. subula, O. similis and M. moraguesi were singly transferred using a camel hairbrush into the arenas. L2 larvae of F. occidentalis were offered in an enough number in the each arena as prey. The number of larvae of F. occidentalis as prey was  20 for N1-N3 and  40 for N4-N5 instar of each predatory species. Afterwards, the arenas were placed in incubator at temperature 25 oC. During the experiment, the predatory nymphs were daily transferred to new similar arenas with fresh prey. The old cages were daily checked for the number of consumed thrips, which were emptied of fluid and easily distinguished from that of natural death under binocular microscope. The moulting of the successive nymphal instars was checked either till adult emergence. 20 replicates was set up in the experiments with each predatory bug species.

Prey consumption by female and male adults of each predatory bug species was studied from the first day after adult emergence till the 15th day. The females accessed to males for the first time on the 2nd day after their emergence. Adults of the predator in desirable stage and sex were singly kept in the arenas (3 cm in diameter) and daily offered 40 L2 larvae of F. occidentalis on cucumber leaf in the arenas as prey. During experiment, the adult predators were transferred to new arenas with new prey offered. The number of F. occidentalis killed by each predatory individual was recorded daily. Fifteen replicates were used with each sex of each predatory bug species.


3 Results

3.1 Prey consumption by the nymphs

3.1.1 Mean total prey consumption by each instar

Figure 1 showed the total number of F. occidentalis of L2 instar consumed by nymphs of each instar of G. ochropterus, O. similis, M. moraguesi and S. subula at 25±1°C temperature. Regardless S. subula which could not develop full into adult, G. ochropterus consumed significantly highest mean number of 17.2, 22.5, 40.0 and 70.3 thrips larvae/instar for female nymphs in five instars respectively, and 15.2, 23.6, 43.6 and 51.2 thrips larvae/instar for male nymphs in five instars respectively. M. moraguesi consumed mean number of 6.5-38.0 thrips/instar with significant difference between five instars. While the mean number consumed by different nymphal instars of O.similis ranged in 5.8-19.4 thrips/instar. Total numbers of the thrips consumed by different predatory bug species from N1 to N5 instar were significantly different, with means of 289.8, 85.7 and 38.5 thrips/predator for female nymphs of G. ochropterus, M. moraguesi and O. similis respectively, with 250.6, 83.0 and 42.4 thrips/nymphal predator for male nymphs of the three predatory bug species respectively.





Fig. 1: Mean total prey consumption by different instar nymphs of Geocoris ochropterus, Orius similis, Montandoniola moraguesi and Scipinia subula by feeding on Frankliniella occidentalis of L2 instar as prey at 25±1°C temperature. [ Montandoniola moraguesi was tested on leaves of Cucumis sativus, other predatory species were tested on leaves of Phaseolus vulgaris. Bars with different small letters indicate significant differences between the female and male within the same nymphal instar and same predatory species, while bars with different capital letters indicate significant differences between different predatory species within the same instars at p<0.05 (One-factor analysis of variance ) ]




3.1.2 Mean daily prey consumption by each instar

Figure 2 presented the mean number of prey daily consumed by G. occidentalis in each instar ranged in 2.0-12.5 thrips/nymphal predator, those of M. moraguesi and O. similis ranged in 1.8-5.7 thrips/ nymphal predator. Within same instar, the nymphs of G. occidentalis consumed significantly higher number of thrips than M. moraguesi and O. similes.




Fig. 2: Mean daily prey consumption by different instar nymphs of Geocoris ochropterus, Orius similis, Montandoniola moraguesi and Scipinia subula by feeding on second instar larvae (L2) of Frankliniella occidentalis as prey at 25±1°C temperature. [ Montandoniola moraguesi was tested on leaves of Cucumis sativus, other predatory species were tested on leaves of Phaseolus vulgaris. Bars with different small letters indicate significant differences between the female and male within the same nymphal instar and same predatory species, while bars with different capital letters indicate significant differences between different predatory species within the same instars at p<0.05 (One-factor analysis of variance ) ]




3.2 Prey consumption by the nymphs

Figure 3 demonstrated the mean daily and total prey consumption by the adult of the four predatory bug species over 15-day-period after adult emergence. The number of prey daily consumed by adult G. ochropterus fluctuated between 2.7 and 23.1 thrips/nymph, while O. similis fluctuated between 1.9 and 4.2 thrips/nymph, M. moraguesi between 1.8 and 4.9 thrips/day, S. subula between 0.2 and 3.7 thrips/nymph. The prey consumed by G. ochropterus over 15 days after adult emergence totaled a mean of 217.0 (♂), 221.0 (♀) prey individuals, significantly higher than M. moraguesi with the total mean of 58.4 (♂), 53.6 (♀) thrips/adult, O. similis with the total mean of 48.2 (♂), 50.8 (♀) thrips/adult and S.subula with 24 (♂), 18.6 (♀) thrips/adult.




Fig. 3: Mean daily prey consumption by adults of Geocoris ochropterus, Orius similis Montandoniola moraguesi and Scipinia subula by feeding on second instar larvae (L2) of Frankliniella occidentalis as prey at 25±1 oC temperature.[ Bars with different small letters indicate significant differences between the female and male within the same predatory species, while bars with different capital letters indicate significant differences between different predatory species within the same sex at p<0.05. (One-factor analysis of variance)]


4 Discussion

The results of the experiments revealed that S. subula failed to preys successfully on larvae of F. occidentalis as prey after the predatory bug was in life stage of 5th instar or adult. The remaining 3 predatory species was able to consume the thrips during the predator’s entire nymphal development and in the life stage of adult. Within same life stages of predator, mean total prey consumption by G. ochropterus was significantly higher than those of O. similis and M. moraguesi. At present, no previous information was available for the prey consumption of the four predatory bug species with F. occidentalis as prey.

The mean daily prey consumption of G. ochropterus was significantly higher than those of O. similis and M. moraguesi, even though the nympha developmental period of G. ochropterus was significantly longer than those of the later two predatory bug species.

For adult of G. ochropterus over 15 days after adult emergence, the total number of consumed thrips was 217.0 (♂), 221.0 (♀) prey individuals, 4 times higher than those of M. moraguesi and O. similis.

The efficiency of predatory bugs as biological control agents of pest insects depends mainly on their prey consumption when they are adults (Blaeser et al. 2004). In present research, prey consumption by G. ochropterus of both nynphal and adult stages were significantly higher than those of O. similis and M. moraguesi within same life stages. This indicated that G. ochripterus was a good predator as compared to remaining three predatory bug species.


Acknowledgements The authors are grateful to Prof. W. J. Bu from NanKai University for identification of the predatory bug species.


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C.Q. Ruan  C. Sengonca ()

Department of Entomology and Plant Protection,

INRES-Phytomedicine, University of Bonn,

Nussallee 9, 53115 Bonn, Germany

E-mail: C.Sengonca@uni-bonn.de


B. Liu

Institute of Agro-Biological resources,

Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences,

Fuzhou, Fujian, 350003, China



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