A series of experiments were conducted to determine the impact of Protaphorura fimata Gisin (Family: Onychiuridae) feeding on seeds and germinating seedlings of lettuce, Lactuca sativa L. (Asteraceae). First, various densities of P. fimata were incubated with 25 lettuce seeds for 7 d and feeding injury was evaluated in three soilless arena experiments. As a second step, 100 P. fimata were incubated with 25 lettuce seeds in three arena experiments with soil media. Finally, in a commercial field the incidence and impact of P. fimata on recently planted lettuce was assessed following applications of pyrethroid—insecticides: 2 d before planting, at planting, and 20 d later. In experiments without soil, the number of ungerminated seeds, feeding injury sites, and plants with injury were significantly greater in arenas with P. fimata than without. Similarly, the number of germinated seedlings, shoot fresh, and dry weights, and the length and width of fully opened-leaves were greater in arenas without than with P. fimata in assays with soil. In the field, P. fimata densities were significantly lower in beds that received insecticides at 2 d before and at planting than in untreated beds. Also, the fresh and dry weights of lettuce plants were significantly greater in the beds that received insecticide than in untreated. The results clearly show that P. fimata is a pest of lettuce and can cause severe feeding injury to germinating seeds or seedlings, thereby reducing their growth rate. The potential implications of P. fimata feeding and feeding injury characteristics are discussed.
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