The predatory mirid Dicyphus hesperus Knight (Hemiptera: Miridae) is native to North America. The species has been used for the control of glasshouse whitefly on aubergine in the Netherlands, and is currently being evaluated for continued and wider release in Europe. Field and laboratory studies were conducted on a population collected from southern California, USA, to assess the cold tolerance and potential for outdoor establishment under prevailing northern European climates. The supercooling points (whole animal freezing temperatures) of nymphal and adult insects were around -20 degrees C. The lethal temperatures (LTemp(50)) of non-diapausing nymphs and adults and diapausing adults were close to their respective freezing temperatures at -17.6, -17.6 and -19.2 degrees C. At 5 degrees C, the LTime(50) was 54, 101.7 and 117.5 days for fed nymphs, non-diapausing and diapausing adults respectively. When first instar nymphs were placed in the field in winter, starved samples died out after 70 days, but 5% of the fed nymphs survived until the end of winter (140 days) and developed to adult on return to the laboratory. After a similar 5-month field exposure, 50% of fed diapausing adults and 15% of fed non-diapausing adults were still alive at the end of winter, whereas starved diapausing adults died after 140 days. On return to the laboratory after 5 months in the field, both diapausing and non-diapausing adults mated and laid eggs, forming viable populations. Overall, the field and laboratory experiments indicate that this population of D. hesperus is able to enter diapause and that winter temperatures are not a barrier to establishment in northern Europe.
- cold tolerance
- non-native species
- establishment potential
- environmental risk assessment