Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spider Mite Predators Serve As Biological Control

Date:
December 28, 2009
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
The control of spider mites, which damage tree leaves, reduce fruit quality and cost growers millions of dollars in the use of pesticide and oil spraying, is being biologically controlled in Pennsylvania apple orchards with two tiny insects known to be natural predators.

Ppredator mite attacking a spider mite.
Credit: David Biddinger, Penn State

The control of spider mites, which damage tree leaves, reduce fruit quality and cost growers millions of dollars in the use of pesticide and oil spraying, is being biologically controlled in Pennsylvania apple orchards with two tiny insects known to be natural predators, according to Penn State researchers.

"Spider mites feed on the chlorophyll in the cells of leaves, damaging their ability to use photosynthesis," said David Biddinger, tree fruit entomologist and biocontrol specialist at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville. "When the numbers of mites per leaf reaches 25 to 30, the tree becomes stressed and the leaves start to bronze. This affects the quality of its fruit and in two to three seasons can actually kill small trees."

The two most popular insect specialists used to control spider mites are a lady bug named Stethorus punctum and a predatory mite named T. pyri. These insects prey on two types of spider mites, the European red mites and the two-spotted spider mites, which are agricultural pests worldwide. Much of Biddinger's work is in Pennsylvania apple orchards, a prime target for both types of pest mites.

Although the lady bug and the predatory mite both hunt spider mites, their ways of tracking them down are different.

"It turns out the predatory mite sort of roams around and bumps into them," said Biddinger. "The lady bug on the other hand is a selective killer, hunting using visual and olfactory cues to prey on spider mites."

The lady bug is tiny, oval, and black and it is a natural killer of pest mites. It is attracted to specific volatile chemical signals given off by the damage the spider mites cause to leaves. It is not just the smell that drives the lady bugs wild; this insect cannot resist the yellowing of the leaves damaged by spider mites. Adult lady bugs can live for over a year and eat up to nine mites an hour or 75 to 100 a day.

The predatory mite is much smaller than the lady bug. It is pear-shaped and is usually creamy-white in color. Young mites develop into adults in a very short time and their voracious appetites make them a formidable enemy to spider mites. Adults have a lifespan of about 75 days and can eat 350 mites during this time.

Reducing pest mite numbers and controlling outbreaks with the aid of mite predators is an important task. The biological control of spider mites reduces the need for mite-controlling chemicals and saves growers millions in integrated pest management costs.

"Biological control is basically using the good bugs to control the bad bugs," said Biddinger.

Growers chose lady bugs as their biological control agent until U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations prompted growers to switch to new pesticides that kill lady bugs. The predatory mite, however, was resistant and could live through sprayings. So predatory mites are now the hunter of choice for spider mites.

Biddinger, working with Donald C. Weber, research entomologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory, Maryland, and Larry Hull, professor of entomology, Penn State, published their work in a special issue of Biological Control devoted to ladybugs in agriculture.

"With the pesticides we are using now it is very hard for the lady bug to survive," said Biddinger. "The predatory mite could never exist here before because they could not stand the old pesticides, but they are resistant to the new pesticides. With the predatory mite being more effective than the lady bug, we are probably going to exceed the savings for growers that we had with the lady bug in the past. So far we have reduced miticide use by over 90 percent since we switched. This is saving growers about a million dollars a year and is reducing oil spraying by 45,000 gallons a year."

The State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania supported this work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Spider Mite Predators Serve As Biological Control." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091102171613.htm>.
Penn State. (2009, December 28). Spider Mite Predators Serve As Biological Control. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091102171613.htm
Penn State. "Spider Mite Predators Serve As Biological Control." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091102171613.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins