Indexed on: 26 Apr '15Published on: 26 Apr '15Published in: Experimental and Applied Acarology
Studies on the seasonal variation of agricultural pest species are important for the establishment of integrated pest control programs. The seasonality of pest attacks on crops is affected by biotic and abiotic factors, for example, climate and natural enemies. Besides that, characteristics of the host plant, crop management, location and the pests' bioecology also affect this seasonality. The mites Polyphagotarsonemus latus (Prostigmata: Tarsonemidae) and Tetranychus bastosi (Prostigmata: Tetranychidae) are the most important pests in the cultivation of physic nut, Jatropha curcas (Euphorbiaceae). All parts of J. curcas can be used for a wide range of purposes. In addition many researchers have studied its potential for use as neat oil, as transesterified oil (biodiesel), or as a blend with diesel. However studies about physic nut pests have been little known. The objective of this study was to assess the seasonal variation of P. latus and T. bastosi in physic nut. This study was conducted at three sites in the state of Tocantins, Brazil. We monitored climatic elements and the densities of the two mite species and of their natural enemies for a period of 2 years. Attack by P. latus occurred during rainy seasons, when the photoperiod was short and the physic nut had new leaves. In contrast, attack by T. bastosi occurred during warmer seasons with longer photoperiods and stronger winds. Populations of both mites and their natural enemies were greater in sites with greater plant diversity adjacent to the plantations. The predators found in association with P. latus and T. bastosi were Euseius concordis (Acari: Phytoseiidae), spiders, Stethorus sp. (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) and Chrysoperla sp. (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae).