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Oviposition preference of Anthocoris nemorum and A. nemoralis for apple and pear

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Anthocoris nemorum L. and Anthocoris nemoralis Fabricius (Heteroptera: Anthocoridae) are important predators of insect pests in pome fruit. Females insert their eggs in leaf tissue. The females’ choice of oviposition site is important for the subsequent distribution of nymphs on host plants. Oviposition preference for apple and pear leaves was tested in the laboratory in four experiments (experiments 1–4). In three experiments it was tested whether simulated insect damage to leaves (experiments 5 and 6) or the presence of prey (experiment 7) influenced oviposition preference. The effect of the presence of prey was only tested for A. nemorum on apple leaves. There was a highly significant anthocorid species × plant interaction for the number of eggs laid on apple and pear leaves. Anthocoris nemorum laid more eggs on apple than on pear leaves, while A. nemoralis preferred pear. Anthocoris nemorum's preference for apple increased over the 6-week period in which experiments 1–4 were performed, from 66% to 91% eggs laid on apple leaves. No change over time in preference was found for A. nemoralis. Across experiments 1–4, the majority of A. nemorum eggs were laid near leaf margins, whereas eggs of A. nemoralis were more commonly found in the leaf centre, 5 mm or more from the margin, with a highly significant leaf region × species interaction. There was no significant difference in preference for leaf side between A. nemorum and A. nemoralis, but there was a highly significant plant × leaf side × experiment interaction. Thus, more eggs were laid on the ventral than on the dorsal side of pear leaves in experiment 4, while significantly more eggs were laid on the dorsal side of apple leaves in experiments 3 and 4. Choice tests between damaged and healthy leaves showed that A. nemorum laid significantly more eggs on the damaged leaves, while A. nemoralis preferred healthy leaves. Anthocoris nemorum showed a near-significant preference for ovipositing on leaves with eggs of Operophtera brumata (Lepidoptera: Geometridae). The oviposition preferences found correspond to the natural distribution of these predators in apple and pear orchards. The preference of A. nemorum for leaf margins, and of A. nemoralis for the leaf centre as an oviposition site, supports earlier observations. A preference for leaf side for oviposition site has not been reported earlier. Preference for damaged leaves could help A. nemorum to locate prey in a field situation.
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Keywords: Anthocoridae; Anthocoris nemoralis; Anthocoris nemorum; Heteroptera; Malus domestica; Operophtera brumata; Pyrus communis; apple; choice; oviposition; pear; preference

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2004

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