Laboratory assays were performed to determine the impact of three predators, the bigeyed bug, Geocoris punctipes Say, minute pirate bug, Orius insidiosus (Say), and the pink spotted lady beetle, Coleomegilla maculata fuscilabris (Mulsant), on two herbivores, the cotton aphid, Aphis gossypii Glover, and the twospotted spider mite (TSM), Tetranychus urticae Koch, using strawberry (Fragaria ananassa Duchesne) leaflets as a substrate. Both herbivores are considered important strawberry pests worldwide. Daily and hourly consumption of a single prey species studied were conducted as well as a preference for prey test. All stages of the bigeyed bug, minute pirate bug, and pink spotted lady beetle fed on the cotton aphid and TSM. The pink spotted lady beetle had a higher rate of consumption for both the cotton aphid and TSM, and therefore, may be a more effective predator of both prey species. The bigeyed bug and minute pirate bug (third instar and adult) prefer TSM over cotton aphids based on handling time. In contrast, the pink spotted lady beetle (third instar and adult) prefers aphids over mites. Results from these experiments indicated that the pink spotted lady beetle seems to be a good predator to incorporate into an existing biological control program for cotton aphid and TSM on strawberries. Better understanding of these three predators will lead to their more efficient use for biological control of aphids and TSM.
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