Effect of host plant, prey species and intergenerational changes on the prey preferences of the predatory mirid Macrolophus caliginosus

IS Hatherly, BP Pedersen, Jeffrey Bale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


The outdoor establishment of non-native biocontrol agents released for inundative control of glasshouse pests is determined primarily by two factors: ecophysiological compatibility with local climate, particularly winter cold tolerance, and ability to locate and utilise wild prey. Observations on the number and diversity of acceptable wild prey as part of an assessment of establishment potential therefore overlap with more focused studies to determine host range. This study investigated two aspects of the interactions between biocontrol agents and non-target prey that are rarely considered in tests for establishment or host range: the role of different host plant-prey associations in modifying the development and reproduction of biocontrol agents, and the longer term sustainability of such relationships beyond the single generation observed in most laboratory studies. Using the glasshouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) predator Macrolophus caliginosus Wagner (Hemiptera: Miridae) as a case study, the mirid was able to sustain viable populations over three generations on the related cabbage whitefly Aleyrodes proletella (Linnaeus) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) and the aphid Myzus persicae (Sulzer) (Hemiptera: Aphididae), including when these prey were feeding on different host plants (Chinese cabbage, cabbage and Brussels sprout). However, the rate of development, fecundity and mortality of the predator varied between the different prey and host plant combinations, and in all cases differed than when feeding on its glasshouse prey T. vaporariorum reared on tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). The results are discussed in the light of the current debate on methods for conducting host range testing as part of an environmental risk assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Host range
  • Overwintering
  • Biocontrol
  • Non-native species
  • Environmental risk assessment
  • Miridae
  • Establishment
  • Hemiptera


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