Most studies on ecological impact of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation generally focus on plants. However, UV radiation can also affect organisms at other trophic levels. Protection against mortality induced by solar UV has, therefore, been hypothesized as one of the reasons why Typhlodromalus aripo hides in the apex of cassava plants during the day and comes out at night to prey on spider mites on leaves. In laboratory experiments using UV lamps, we determined the impact of UVA and UVB radiation on survival and oviposition of two leaf-inhabiting mites (Amblydromalus manihoti, Euseius fustis) and the apex-inhabiting mite (T. aripo), all three species being predators used for controlling the cassava green mite Mononychellus tanajoa in Africa. Whereas on leaf discs UVA has no negative impact on survival of the three predators, UVB is lethal to all of them. In contrast, nearly 85% of T. aripo survived after exposure to UVB inside apex of cassava plants. Exposure of A. manihoti and E. fustis to UVB radiation on the lower surface of a cassava leaf resulted in 36% survival. Oviposition and hatching of eggs laid after exposure to UVB were not affected, but eggs directly exposed to UVB did not hatch. Although caution should be exercised to extrapolate laboratory studies to the field, our results support the hypothesis that lower side of leaves, but especially plant apices, represent refuges that protect predatory mites from UVB. This might explain why T. aripo moves out of the apex to forage on leaves only during the night.
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