The effectiveness of inoculative releases of the mirid predator Dicyphus hesperus Knight for control of Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) on greenhouse tomatoes was evaluated in terms of suppression of the population densities of F. occidentalis and associated fruit damage in the presence of the predator over two seasonal trials. An inoculative release of one D. hesperus per plant (≈0.1:10 predator:prey ratio) at a high F. occidentalis population density (140 thrips per plant) suppressed the thrips population density to a significantly lower level, compared with the nonrelease greenhouse, but not below a thrips level that caused economic fruit damage. As the predator:prey ratio increased to ≈0.5:10 D. hesperus:F. occidentalis, the mean percentage of the thrips-damaged fruit in the D. hesperus release greenhouse decreased to 1.6%. However, the amount of fruit feeding by D. hesperus was highly correlated to the availability of prey (or predator:prey ratio) under greenhouse conditions. D. hesperus-induced fruit damage occurred when the predator:prey ratio was >1:10 D. hesperus:F. occidentalis. Considering the potential risk of fruit damage by D. hesperus and the need for effective control of F. occidentalis, a 0.5–1:10 D. hesperus:F. occidentalis ratio is recommended when the thrips population density is in the range of 60–150 thrips per plant.
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Vol. 99 • No. 2