Elucidating the common generalist predators of Conotrachelus nenuphar (Herbst) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in an organic apple orchard using molecular gut-content analysis

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Abstract

© 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Conotrachelus nenuphar (Herbst) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), plum curculio, is a serious direct pest of North American tree fruit including, apples, cherries, peaches and plums. Historically, organophosphate insecticides were used for control, but this tool is no longer registered for use in tree fruit. In addition, few organically approved insecticides are available for organic pest control and none have proven efficacy as this time. Therefore, promoting biological control in these systems is the next step, however, little is known about the biological control pathways in this system and how these are influenced by current mechanical and cultural practices required in organic systems. We used molecular gut-content analysis for testing field caught predators for feeding on plum curculio. During the study we monitored populations of plum curculio and the predator community in a production organic apple orchard. Predator populations varied over the season and contained a diverse assemblage of spiders and beetles. A total of 8% of all predators (eight Araneae, two Hemiptera, and six Coleoptera species) assayed for plum curculio predation were observed positive for the presence of plum curculio DNA in their guts, indicating that these species fed on plum curculio prior to collection Results indicate a number of biological control agents exist for this pest and this requires further study in relation to cultural practices.

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Schmidt, J. M., Szendrei, Z., & Grieshop, M. (2016). Elucidating the common generalist predators of Conotrachelus nenuphar (Herbst) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in an organic apple orchard using molecular gut-content analysis. Insects, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/insects7030029

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