Borges, I., Oliveira, L., Durão, A., Arruda, P. & Soares, A.O. (2023) Feeding preference and intraguild interactions between the parasitoid Trichogramma achaeae and the predator Macrolophus pygmaeus, two biological agents of Tuta absoluta.Pest Management Science, 79(11), 4376-4382. DOI:10.1002/ps.7635 (IF2021 4,463; Q1 Entomology)
Background: Tuta absoluta is an exotic species and a major pest of tomato crops in Europe. Macrolophus pygmaeus and Trichogramma achaeae are two biocontrol agents widely used in integrated pest management programs of the South American tomato pinworm Tuta absoluta. In this study, we evaluated under laboratory conditions the (i) voracity of M. pygmaeus females fed on single diets of Tuta absoluta eggs parasitized or unparasitized by Trichogramma achaeae, (ii) voracity and feeding preference of M. pygmaeus females provided with mixed diets of Tuta absoluta eggs unparasitized and parasitized by Trichogramma achaeae and (iii) effect of competitive and intraguild interactions between M. pygmaeus and Trichogramma achaeae on the number of Tuta absoluta eggs consumed and/or parasitized. Lastly, we assessed under field conditions the effect of interspecific and intraspecific interactions between natural enemies on the number of Tuta absoluta eggs consumed and/or parasitized.
Results: Macrolophus pygmaeus consumed more unparasitized than parasitized eggs of Tuta absoluta. Under mixed diet regimes, Manly indices revealed a feeding preference for unparasitized eggs, and a decrease in the total number of eggs consumed, as the proportion of available parasitized eggs increased, whereas the unparasitized eggs were consumed in direct proportion to their availability. Conspecific interactions between M. pygmaeus, in contrast to Trichogramma achaeae, revealed the possible occurrence of intraspecific competition. For intraguild heterospecific interactions, the number of Tuta absoluta eggs consumed by M. pygmaeus and parasitized by Trichogramma achaeae was lower than that predicted for additive and non-interactive scenarios. Under field conditions, a significant difference between the conspecific treatment and heterospecific treatments revealed a slightly higher success rate in controlling Tuta absoluta when both M. pygmaeus and Trichogramma achaeae were used simultaneously.
Conclusion: Macrolophus pygmaeus prefers unparasitized eggs of Tuta absoluta but inflicts intraguild predation on Trichogramma achaeae. In conspecific experiments, mutual interference between M. pygmaeus predators intensifies as the number of individuals increases, but for Trichogramma achaeae, it occurs in an unpredictable manner. Adding Trichogramma achaeae could significantly increase the level of control of Tuta absoluta compared to what could be achieved when only M. pygmaeus is present in glasshouse tomatoes.