Better biological control in glasshouses: synergies between biological control agents from different guilds and floral resources
The tomato/potato psyllid (TPP), Bactericera cockerelli (Hemiptera, Triozidae), is an adventive psyllid in New Zealand that is a major pest of solanaceous crops and a serious threat to growers in the glasshouse industry. Worldwide, evaluation of potential biological control (BC) agents is normally conducted using single species and this is the case with some potential BC agents for TPP. However, the idea that multiple species can act synergistically remains largely untested so that is the aim of the current work, which is funded by Tomatoes New Zealand. The introduced parasitoid Tamarixia triozae is a BC agent of TPP that attacks mainly late instars. It lives for just 1 day when provided with water but can live up to 11 days (and consume more pests) when nectar in the flowers of buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is provided. In addition, another potential BC agent, the mirid bug Engytatus nicotianae, prefers young nymphal instars, while the ladybird Cleobora mellyi is voracious and consumes all instars. We are testing combinations of these species to understand the potential for synergies between and within trophic levels for better biological control.