Potential of Predator Podisus nigrispinus Dallas (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) in the Control of Helicoverpa armigera Hübner (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

  •  Juliana Simonato    
  •  Harley N. de Oliveira    
  •  José F. J. Grigolli    
  •  Mirian M. Kubota Grigolli    
  •  Ivana F. da Silva    


Managing Helicoverpa armigera is still a major challenge for Brazilian farmers, due to limited information available about chemicals and biological control of this pest in Brazil. This study focused on evaluating the biological aspects of Podisus nigrispinus fed with H. armigera, under laboratory conditions, as well as verifying the capacity of the P. nigrispinus in preying on caterpillars of H. armigera in the field, in soybean crops. The experiments were conducted in laboratory under controlled temperature conditions of 25±2 ºC, relative humidity (RH) 60±10% and 14-hour photophase, as well as in the field, at the experimental station of Fundação MS in Maracaju, MS. In the laboratory, second instar nymphs of P. nigrispinus were placed in plastic jars and fed with H. armigera larvae or Tenebrio molitor larvae throughout the nymphal phase. When they reach adulthood, 15 couples were formed, remaining with the same prey of the previous phase. For the field trial, soybean plants were caged, and inside these cages were released eight quarter-instar H. armigera caterpillars. Subsequently, in each cage were released an adult female or a fifth instar nymph, and after 24 hours, the number of prey caterpillars were assessed. Predator nymphal duration was shorter in treatment with H. armigera than with T. molitor. Nymphal viability was similar between treatments. Adult females and males fed with H. armigera presented greater body mass than those fed with T. molitor. The number of postures per female and the number of eggs per female were similar between treatments. The incubation period of eggs was longer for treatment with H. armigera, differing statistically from treatment with T. molitor. Eggs from treatment with H. armigera showed similar viability to treatment with T. molitor, not differing statistically. Females and males under treatment with H. armigera showed longer longevity compared to treatment with T. molitor. Adult females preyed on average 2.26 caterpillars within 24 hours and fifth instar nymphs preyed on 1.73 caterpillars/day. P. nigrispinus showed better development when fed with H. armigera, demonstrating that it can be used as an alternative host for breeding this predator. The predator showed satisfactory performance for predation rate/day. Release of fifth instar nymphs and adult females of P. nigrispinus may reduce the pest population in relation to the absence of the predator under field conditions, an important alternative to be used in H. armigera integrated management programs.

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