Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 27, Number 3, July-September 2007
Page(s) 167 - 170
Published online 11 July 2007
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 27 (2007) 167-170
DOI: 10.1051/agro:2007011

Effect of tomato deleafing on mirids, the natural predators of whiteflies

O. Bonatoa and G. Ridrayb

a  IRD-Center for Biology and Management of Populations (CBGP), CS 30 016, 34988 Montferrier-sur-Lez Cedex, France
b  INRA Domaine expérimental du Mas blanc, 66200 Alenya, France

(Accepted 11 January 2007; published online 11 July 2007)

Abstract - Sustainability in Mediterranean greenhouse agrosystems involves environmentally-friendly techniques based on biological and non-chemical methods. Deleafing is a common agricultural practice used to accelerate fruit ripening and facilitate farming methods. However, deleafing may have an impact on mirids, a natural predator used to control whiteflies, which are considered among the most noxious insect pests of field and greenhouse crops worldwide. Here we studied the impact of leaf removal on populations of mirids. Two deleafing practices were tested: (a) regular deleafing, with the first removal of 2 leaves per plant 10 weeks after sowing; and (b) delayed deleafing, in which the first removal was delayed by 14 days. Our results show that regular deleafing had a strong negative impact on mirid populations. Indeed, the first deleafing of the regular method eliminated 74% of young nymphs. Such a loss was not observed with the delayed method because nymphs were older and already distributed on leaves which were never thinned. As a consequence of this initial difference, mirid populations were 60% higher in the delayed than in the regular deleafing treatments at the end of the crop. The biological control of whiteflies was less efficient in the regular deleafing crop for which densities were, on average, 30% higher than in the delayed deleafing crop. Such inefficiency could call into question the sustainability in protected tomato crops of environmentally-friendly techniques focused on reducing the pesticides used.

Key words: deleafing / impact / Macrolophus caliginosus / Bemisia tabaci / Trialeurodes vaporariorum / tomato

Corresponding author:

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2007