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Interactions among three trophic levels: influence of host plants on interactions between pink hibiscus mealy bug, maconellicoccus hirsutus (green) and its predator, nephus regularis sicard

Author: 
Mahimasanthi, A. and Prassana Kumar, S.
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

The insect natural enemy interactions vary with the insect’s host plant species and understanding such variation is important to study the preference of natural enemies, which play a major role in biological control programmes. In the present investigation, pink hibiscus mealy bug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus – predator interactions were studied on six different hosts viz. Morus alba, Psdium guajava, Hibiscus rosasinensis, Abelmoschus esculentus, Gliricidia sepium and Mimosa pudica in different seasons to find out the most favourable host as well as preference of the predator, Nephus regularis. The host plants highly influenced the incidence and population build up of M. hirsutus and also the third trophic entomophage. M. hirsutus preferred H. rosasinensis and A. esculentus. M. alba was the third preferred host. P. guajava and M. pudica were the least preferred hosts. The highest population of the pest was recorded on A. esculentus (28.4no.s/shoot) in winter and by H. rosasinensis (16.05 numbers / shoot) followed by M. alba (12.33) whereas M. pudica (11.00) and P. guajava (3.4) in summer. M. alba recorded highest population of the predator, Nephus regularis recording average number of 1.23 individuals per infested shoot followed by H. rosasinensis (1.05) in summer. Though, A. esculentus recorded highest M. hirsutus population in winter season (28.4 / branch) the predator population was comparatively lower (1.25). From the study it is clearly evident that any biological control measures taken to control M. hirsutus in the agricultural fields will be heavily influenced by H. rosasinensis and G. sepium plantations in the surroundings. Hence while releasing coccinellids for biological control these plants if available in the surroundings also should be considered.

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