Bionomics of the anthocorid, Orius insidiosus (Say) in Virginia apple orchards

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The anthocorid, Orius insidiosus (Say) is a common polyphagous predator in Virginia apple orchards, particularly in orchards under reduced pesticide programs. The purpose of this research was to contribute to the basic knowledge of the biology and ecology of O. insidiosus in Virginia orchards and to evaluate the potential for its incorporation into IPM programs currently being developed.

Egg and nymphal development of O. insidiosus was studied at 17°, 23°, 29°, and 35°C. Nymphs were supplied with an excess of the European red mite, Panonychus ulmi (Koch). There was a linear relationship between development rate (l/Days) of O. insidiosus and temperature. Developmental threshold temperatures were calculated as 10.2°C for the eggs; 8.9°, 7.5°, 10.7°, 12.5°, and 9.9°C for nymphal instars 1-5 respectively; and 10.0°C for total nymphal development. Mean degree-days (DD) requirements were 75.8 for eggs; 45.0, 38.0, 27.8, 28.8, and 64.9 for instars 1-5 respectively: 201.7 DD were required for total nymphal development.

Nymphal development was also studied using aphids and pollen as food sources. Mean time (days ± S.E.) for total nymphal development at 23°C was 19.0 ± 0.0 with aphids and 20.0 ± 0.5 with pollen.

As already mentioned, O. insidiosus is a polyphagous predator. Extensive laboratory and field observations established a number of small, soft-bodied insects and mites as well as the eggs of several lepidoptera are acceptable as prey. O. insidiosus also feeds on other beneficial species including predaceous thrips and mites.

O. insidiosus falls prey to a number of other general orchard predators, particularly spiders, chrysopids, and other predaceous Heteroptera.

During 1977-1978, the population dynamics of O. insidiosus along with a complex of predators and pests in orchards under three different pesticide programs was studied. O. insidiosus underwent 2-3 generations per year in Virginia orchards, depending on the availability of prey. Adults overwintered in the orchard, but most migrated into the orchard during May-early June from other areas. O. insidiosus first responded to aphid populations, but as this prey became scarce in late June, O. insidiosus fed on the European red mite whose populations were usually building up at that time. This study indicated that O. insidiosus responded numerically to increasing mite densities.

Numerous weeds and crops serve as alternate sites for 0. insidiosus populations. Corn and alfalfa are often adjacent to orchards in Virginia and apparently serve as a reservoir for O. insidiosus throughout the season. Thistle (Carduus spp.) harbors large numbers of O. insidiosus which prey on thrips. These natural and cultivated alternate sites may be important to the management of O. insidiosus populations.

Since pesticides are an important component of an IPM program for apples, the relative toxicity of 14 compounds (2 rates of each) to adult O. insidiosus was evaluated. Common cover-spray materials, aphicides, miticides, new materials such as synthetic pyrethroids, and fungicides were tested. Generally, O. insidiosus tolerated many of the compounds being considered for use in our developing IPM programs--especially at the lower rates.

The functional response of O. insidiosus to densities of the European red mite was studied at 18.3°, 23.9°, 29.4°, and 35.0°C. Prey densities ranged from 5-80 mites/ cage. Mite consumption was recorded during five, three-hour intervals during the day. O. insidiosus did exhibit a functional response and increasing temperatures resulted in increased feeding at most prey densities. The data provided a good fit to both the type-2 and type-3 functional response models.

The interspecific interactions of 5th instar O. Insidiosus and 2nd instar larvae of another mite predator, Leptothrips mali (Fitch) was studied in the laboratory. L. mali is a potential prey for O. insidiosus, but has a defensive anal secretion which repels predator attacks. Most contacts between well fed O. insidiosus and L. mali resulted in mutual avoidance. Most attacks by O. insidiosus were unsuccessful, especially if the approach was from the rear. Contact with the thrips' anal secretion resulted in immediate repelling of O. insidiosus with subsequent cleaning activity lasting 1-3 minutes. This study supports earlier work that indicated these two predators were compatible, especially in the presence of another food source such as the European red mite.