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Revista de Protección Vegetal

versión impresa ISSN 1010-2752

Rev. Protección Veg. vol.29 no.2 La Habana Mayo.-ago. 2014




Life table of Macrolophus basicornis (Hemiptera: Miridae) preying on Myzus persicae (Sulzer) and Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Thomas)
(Hemiptera: Aphididae)


Tabla de vida de Macrolophus basicornis (Hemiptera: Miridae) teniendo como presas a Myzus persicae (Sulzer) y Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Thomas) (Hemiptera: Aphididae)



Heyker Lellani Baños DíazI, Elaine LouzadaII, Nazare MouraII, María de los Ángeles Martínez RiveroI, Vanda Elena Páez BuenoII

ILaboratorio de Entomología. Centro Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (CENSA), Dirección Sanidad Vegetal. Departamento Plagas Agrícolas. Mayabeque. Cuba. Email:
Laboratorio de Entomología. Universidad Federal de Lavras. Minas Gerais. Brasil.




Data obtained in studies on the biology and reproduction of Macrolophus basicornis (Heteroptera: Miridae) preying on Myzus persicae (Sulzer) and Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Thomas) on tomato at 28°C, were used to construct life tables for this polyphagous mirid. When M. euphorbiae was preying on M. persicae, the net reproductive rate (Ro) was 4.75, the intrinsic rate of increase (rm) 0.02 (hembra/hembra/day), the mean generation time (T) and the doubling time (DT) 73.91 and 32.9 days, respectively. The corresponding values when it was feeding on M. euphorbiae were 2.57, 0.01, 1.014 days and 49.35 days, respectively. The results demonstrated that M. basicornis could survive and reproduce with M. persicae as well as M. euphorbiae as preys, although the number of females obtained by generation will be smaller with M. euphorbiae. The number of females increased twice in front of M. persicae, what demonstrated that this latter prey had greater acceptance by the predator.

Key words: life table, Macrolophus basicornis, prey, Myzus persicae, Macrosiphum euphorbiae, tomato plants.


A partir de los datos obtenidos durante los experimentos de biología y reproducción de Macrolophus basicornis (Heteroptera: Miridae) se evaluaron las características de las tablas de vida del mirido usando como presa Myzus persicae (Zulser) y Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Thomas), en plantas a 28°C. Cuando la presa fue M. persicae la tasa neta reproductiva (Ro) fue 4,75 hijas hembras por cada madre, la tasa intrínseca de incremento (rm) fue de 0.02 (female/female/day, el tiempo medio generacional (T) y el doble tiempo generacional (DT) fueron de 73,91 y 32,9 días, respectivamente. Los valores correspondientes para M. basicornis cuando se alimenta de M. euphorbiae fue de 2,57, 0,01; 1,014 días y 49,35 días. Los resultados han demostrado que M. basicornis puede sobrevivir y reproducirse teniendo como presa tanto a M. persicae como a M. euphorbiae, aunque la cantidad de hembras obtenidas por generación será más pequeña teniendo como presa a M. euphorbiae; sin embargo, el número de hembras se incrementa dos veces cuando la presa es M. persicae, lo que demuestra que el depredador tiene mayor aceptación por esta presa.

Palabras clave: tablas de vida, Macrolophus basicornis, presa, Myzus persicae, Macrosiphum euphorbiae, plantas de tomate.




Several species of aphids, like Myzus persicae (Sulzer) and Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Thomas) (Homoptera: Aphididae), are major pests of tomato, eggplant, and sweet pepper crops that are grown either outdoors or in greenhouses (1).

Nowadays, several studies have shown that species of the genus Macrolophus fieber (Hemiptera: Miridae), like Macrolophus caliginosus Wagner and M. pygmaeus Rambur (Hemiptera: Miridae), are polyphagous predators and considered as extremely important and effective biological control agents for many greenhouses pests (2,3,4,5,6).

M.caliginosus has successfully controlled whiteflies in tomato fields and is now commercially available for controlling whiteflies and aphids in vegetable crops. M. caliginosus is a polyphagous predator but feeds mainly on greenhouse whitefly and several species of aphids. It also feeds, to a smaller extent, on thrips and mites (1).

Perdikis and Lykouressis (7, 8) and Lykouressis et al. (9) investigated the developmental and survival rates of M. pygmaeus nymphs in the presence and absence of prey on several host plants , and they found that M. persicae and T. vaporariorum were suitable preys.

Recently, Bueno et al. (10) found several very promising predatory Hemiptera, which attacked lepidopteran species and others pest in tomato greenhouses. In this studies M. basicornis (Stal, 1860) (Hemiptera: Miridae) and other two predator showed high predation rates, which were similar to the very effective European predators used on a large scale for the control of lepidopteran species and several other greenhouse pests (6,11,12). M. basicornis and the predator Nesidiocoris tenuis Reuter (Hemiptera: Miridae) showed predation rates higher than 30 eggs/day (6) and 100 eggs/day (13).

As Wiedenmann and Wilson emphasized (14), before polyphagous predators can be used effectively as biological control agents, it is important to obtain strong information about their biology.

With this purpose, the determination of the life table characteristics of M. basicornis feeding on M. persicae and M. euphorbia on tomato plants in this study was found important.



The adults of the predator M. basicornis used for the laboratory cultures were collected from an area of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) in Ribeirão Vermelho (21° 08,596 `S and 045° 03,466' W, 808 m altitude), Lavras, Minas Gerais, Brasil. The cultures were maintained in acrylic cages (30x30x60cm) with Nicandra physalodes (L.) Gaertn plants infested by large numbers of M. persicae and M. euphorbiae. All cultures were kept in BIOD at 21 ± 1oC, RH 70 ± 10% and photoperiod of 12 hours; the plates were changed twice a week.

The data obtained from the development and reproduction of M. basicornis with M. persicae and M. euphorbiae as preys on tomato plants were used to construct life tables for M. basicornis. The age-specific survival rate and age-specific fecundity were calculated per day. The net reproductive rate, mean generation time, intrinsic rate of natural increase, doubling time and finally, finite rate of increase were estimated one by one (15,16,17).



When M. basicornis had M. persicae as prey, the population of the predator increased 4,75 times in 73,91 days, what represents that ber each female in the current generation, 4,75 females were born in the following generation. Also, ber each female being present one day, there were 1, 02 females the following day. Therefore, in any moment, the number of the M. basicornis female populations would increase at such a rate that a population growth near to 2% could be expected (Table).

On the other hand, when M. euphorbiae was given as prey, the population of natural enemies increased 2,57 times in 67,37 days, making evident that with this prey, the number of females born per day (Ro) and the half time between a generation and the following one (T) decreased. Table shows significant differences in the number of prospective females with both preys. However, no significant differences were observed in the predator´s generational time with the two preys offered.

Similar behavior was shown by the population growth, which diminished to 1% when M. euphorbiae was given as prey, but when M. persicae was the prey, no significant differences were observed (Table).

The finite rate of growth, defined as the number of individuals that is added to a population per day, for M. basicornis was superior to the unit in front of both preys; a value that was considered as a good indicator for biological control candidates (18).

However, although the double generational time was longer when the predator fed on M. euphorbiae, it did not show significant differences when the pray given was M. persicae, which could be interpreted as an advantage for the predator´s population increment.

The proportion of individual survivors of M. basicornis showed that the probability to live in early ages since the beginning until 28 days was100% when this species was feeding on M. persicae (Type I curve). However, at 29 days there was a significant reduction in the survival as the age of the females increased, simulating a Type II curve (Fig. A).

When M. euphorbiae was offered as prey, the curve of survival of M. basicornis basicornis shortens in the 25 and 26 day, but in the 27 day showing a Type I curve until the 29 days, when the survive probability decreased to describe a Type II curve (Fig. B).

According to Duarte et al. (19), the curves of survival allows to describe the pattern mortality that is subject to a population, confirming that they are very sensitive to the environmental conditions, the sex and the individual genotype. Under laboratory conditions, where the nutritious resources are in excess and there is not overcrowding, neither external causes of mortality like parasitoids or predators, it is expected that the organisms express their greatest potential of survival.

There is not much information available about the performance and biological characteristics of M. basicornis as natural enemy, but information on other mirids, like M. caliginosus and M. pygmaeus, used in biological control of aphids and other pests in greenhouses is abundant.

For example, Hansen et al. (20) evaluated the life table characteristics at 220C of M. caliginosus preying on various stages of Tetranychus urticae Koch with tomato as host plant, and they estimated the net reproduction rate (Ro) as 6,15; the intrinsic rate of increase (rm) as 0,031 days; the finite rate of increase as 1,032; the mean generation time as 58,17 days; and doubling time (T2) as 22,2 days.

Perdikis et al. (7) showed that the intrinsic rate of increase of M. pygmaeus was similar on eggplant with M. persicae and tomato with T. vaporariorum at different temperatures. Therefore, both prey species were more or less equally suitable for the population increase of M. pygmaeus. They attributed a possible favorable effect on eggplant with M. persicae to a better adaptation because the culture of M. pygmaeus had been kept on that host plant - prey combination. M. pygmaeus is well adapted to temperatures between 25 and 30oC, consequently, this mirid could be an efficient biological control agent in a range of countries.

The low rate of population increase of M. basicornis observed in this work does not preclude this predator to be used in biological control, which may be achieved by adopting preventive introductions or by using a `Keep-Down-Strategy' as Hansen et al. (20) proposed for M. caliginosus.

Some generalist predators have been reported to perform better on a mixed diet (21), and the same could be true for M. basicornis. Because the majority of glasshouse crops are infested with a number of different pests, more research is needed to assess the nymphal mortality rate, as well as the adult longevity and egg-laying capacity of this predator when fed on these aphids or a mixed diet. Equally important is to continue the research on the preference and switching capacity of M. basicornis preying on different species and their life stages offered simultaneously.

The survival, fecundity, progeny per female, biological characteristics and biological parameters changed when the Macrolophus species fed on eggs (10); this corroborated that aphids were a low quality prey for this predators.

M. basicornis can survive and reproduce with M. persicae as well as M. euphorbiae as preys, although the number of females obtained by generation will be smaller with M. euphorbiae; nevertheless, the number of females increased twice in front of M. persicae, what demonstrated that this prey had greater acceptance by the predator.



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Recibido: 7-3-2014.
Aceptado: 10-6-2014.