Maximizing the contribution of endemic natural enemies to integrated pest management (IPM) programs requires a detailed knowledge of their interactions with the target pest. This experimental field study evaluated the impact of the endemic natural enemy complex of Plutella xylostella (L.) (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae) on pest populations in commercial cabbage crops in southeastern Queensland, Australia. Management data were used to score pest management practices at experimental sites on independent Brassica farms practicing a range of pest management strategies, and mechanical methods of natural enemy exclusion were used to assess the impact of natural enemies on introduced cohorts of P. xylostella at each site. Natural enemy impact was greatest at sites adopting IPM and least at sites practicing conventional pest management strategies. At IPM sites, the contribution of natural enemies to P. xylostella mortality permitted the cultivation of marketable crops with no yield loss but with a substantial reduction in insecticide inputs. Three species of larval parasitoids (Diadegma semiclausum Hellén [Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae], Apanteles ippeus Nixon [Hymenoptera: Braconidae], and Oomyzus sokolowskii Kurdjumov [Hymenoptera: Eulophidae]) and one species of pupal parasitoid Diadromus collaris Gravenhorst (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) attacked immature P. xylostella. The most abundant groups of predatory arthropods caught in pitfall traps were Araneae (Lycosidae) > Coleoptera (Carabidae, Coccinelidae, Staphylinidae) > Neuroptera (Chrysopidae) > Formicidae, whereas on crop foliage Araneae (Clubionidae, Oxyopidae) > Coleoptera (Coccinelidae) > Neuroptera (Chrysopidae) were most common. The abundance and diversity of natural enemies was greatest at sites that adopted IPM, correlating greater P. xylostella mortality at these sites. The efficacy of the natural enemy complex to pest mortality under different pest management regimes and appropriate strategies to optimize this important natural resource are discussed.
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Vol. 97 • No. 6