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Foraging behavior and prey interactions by a guild of predators on various lifestages of Bemisia tabaci

Keywords: Predator-prey interactions , prey choice , sequence analysis , biological control , insect behavior

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Abstract:

The sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) is fed on by a wide variety of generalist predators, but there is little information on these predator-prey interactions. A laboratory investigation was conducted to quantify the foraging behavior of the adults of five common whitefly predators presented with a surfeit of whitefly eggs, nymphs, and adults. The beetles, Hippodamia convergens Guérin-Méneville and Collops vittatus (Say) fed mostly on whitefly eggs, but readily and rapidly preyed on all of the whitefly lifestages. The true bugs, Geocoris punctipes (Say) and Orius tristicolor (Say) preyed almost exclusively on adult whiteflies, while Lygus hesperus Knight preyed almost exclusively on nymphs. The true bugs had much longer prey handling times than the beetles and spent much more of their time feeding (35-42%) than the beetles (6-7%). These results indicate that generalist predators vary significantly in their interaction with this host, and that foraging behavior should be considered during development of a predator-based biological control program for B. tabaci.

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