We compared predation of Orius insidiosus (Say) on adult and second instars of Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) and on adults of F. occidentalis and F. tritici (Fitch) in arenas with pepper flowers. Also, we compared the dispersal of these thrips in the presence and absence of the predator. For each experiment, two densities of thrips (10 and 20 total thrips) and two time exposures (10 and 34 h) were tested. Second instars were more likely to move from the flower where they were released than were F. occidentalis adults. F. tritici dispersed more than F. occidentalis. The presence of the predator enhanced movement by thrips from flowers in which they were released. Despite differences in prey movement, O. insidiosus successfully preyed on all types of prey that were offered. However, O. insidiosus appeared to deal differently with each type of prey. Predation of both larvae and adults was most likely to occur inside flowers. In trials with adults and second instars of F. occidentalis, larvae were significantly more vulnerable to predation than were adults. F. tritici, the more active species, may have been vulnerable to predation because of higher rates of encounter with the predator; however, O. insidiosus may have had greater attack success against the less active F. occidentalis. The ability of O. insidiosus to prey successfully on different life stages and species of thrips in complex environments indicates that it is an efficient predator of thrips and an important biological control agent.
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