Spider mites of the genus Tetranychus are important pests of many food and ornamental crops. Although ' biological control could improve food quality, while reducing health hazards and pesticide resistance, it has not been fully implemented because the efficacy of existing natural enemies is often insufficient in arid climates Neoseiulus califomicus (N.c.) is a natural enemy native to the Mediterranean basin and is relatively efficient against spider mites at lower humidities but is currently produced only in California. This study is a collaborative effort to identify and mass rear a strain of N.c. that will be more efficacious under arid conditions than the standard commercial strain from California. To achieve this goal, N.c. strains will be collected in a number of arid areas worldwide and morphometric and genetic methods will be developed to distinguish between them. The performance of these strains under various climatic regimes and on selected host plants will be evaluated in laboratory and field trials. To provide this product at an affordable cost for European growers we will develop an economic rearing and delivery system for N.c. in Europe. An innovative aspect of this project is the chal1enge of discriminating between genetic and cytoplasmic factors, by identifying bacteria associated with N.c. strains and evaluating their potential influence on the host. This ./' proposal is the first integrated attempt to select for and define a natural enemy strainthat is both suited to arid conditions and economical. The proposed study will help produce safer and healthier fruit and vegetable crops in Southern Europe, where most of Europe's fruits and vegetables are grown, and in dry environments/greenhouses in central, eastern and northern Europe.
Funding SchemeCooperative - SMEs-Co-operative research contracts
Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu
Sapir D.n. Arava
Berkel En Rodenrijs