Knowledge of the effects of pesticides on biological control agents is required for the successful implementation of integrated pest management (IPM) programs in greenhouse production systems. Laboratory assays were conducted to assess the effects of an acaricide (dicofol), two insecticides (chlorpyrifos and pyriproxyfen), and two fungicides (fosetyl-Al and mefenoxam) on Stratiolaelaps scimitus (Womersley), a soil-dwelling predatory mite widely marketed in North America under the name Hypoaspis miles (Berlese) as a biological control agent of dark-winged fungus gnats (Bradysia spp.). Eggs, larvae, protonymphs, deutonymphs, and adult male and female mites were first assayed using dicofol, an acaricide used in the experiments as a positive control, applied to filter paper in an enclosed arena. Protonymphs were assayed for lethal and sublethal effects against the remaining pesticides at maximum label-recommended rates applied to filter paper, by using dicofol as a positive control and water as a negative control. The larva and protonymph were the life stages most susceptible to dicofol, with estimated 24-h LC50 values of 9 and 26 mg m−2, respectively. Chlorpyrifos was highly toxic to the protonymphs of S. scimitus, causing >95% mortality after 24-h exposure and 100% mortality after 48 h. In contrast, the insect growth regulator (IGR) pyriproxyfen was much less toxic to protonymphs of S. scimitus; pyriproxyfen caused no significant mortality, compared with <5% mortality in the water control. Mortality caused by the fungicides was also relatively low; 72-h exposure to fosetyl-Al and mefenoxam resulted in 17.4 and 27.5% mortality, respectively. The IGR and fungicides increased the duration of the protonymphal stage by 1.2–1.8-fold, but they had no effect on the duration of subsequent life stages, nor on the duration of preoviposition, oviposition, and postoviposition periods of adult females. Total numbers and viability of eggs laid by mites exposed to the IGR and fungicides did not differ from the negative control, although the average rate of egg production during the oviposition of mites exposed to fosetyl-Al was increased. Pyriproxyfen, fosetyl-Al, and mefenoxam are likely to be compatible with S. scimitus under field conditions, because these pesticides caused little mortality of protonymphs, and they did not negatively affect the development and reproduction of S. scimitus under extreme laboratory conditions. In contrast, the use of chlorpyrifos in conjunction with S. scimitus is not recommended unless more comprehensive testing under semifield or field conditions demonstrates compatibility.
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Vol. 97 • No. 3