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Factors affecting the establishment and dispersal of nymphs of Pristhesancus plagipennis Walker (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) when released onto soybean, cotton and sunflower crops

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A problem with augmenting predatory bugs through mass release is the logistical difficulty of delivering nymphs onto the foliage of field crops. In this paper we examine postrelease establishment and dispersal of the nymphs of the predatory bug Pristhesancus plagipennis on soybean, cotton and sunflower in an effort to devise an appropriate strategy for field release. The effects of predator stadia and release rates on field establishment and within-crop-canopy dispersal after hand release were recorded in soybean, cotton and sunflower. Field establishment improved with the release of more-developed nymphs, with third instars providing the most appropriate compromise between field hardiness and rearing cost. Increased nymphal density at the point of release had little effect on nymphal dispersal throughout the crop canopy. The patterns of nymphal dispersal observed on the three crops suggest that crop-canopy architecture may have an effect on the ability of nymphs to spread out postrelease, as nymphs dispersed poorly in cotton and sunflower compared to soybean. To overcome poor dispersal of nymphs after release, a mechanical release method, where nymphs were mixed with vermiculite and delivered onto a target crop through a spinning disk fertiliser spreader, was tested, and provided similar nymph establishment rates and dispersal patterns as releasing nymphs individually by hand. The implications of nymph dispersal and field hardiness in regard to inundative field release techniques are discussed.
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Keywords: assassin bug; augmentation; biological control; dispersal; predator

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Agency for Food and Fibre Sciences, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, LMB 1, Biloela, Qld 4715, Australia. 2: Department of Zoology and Entomology, School of Life Sciences, The University of Queensland, Qld 4072, Australia.

Publication date: July 1, 2002

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