Seasonal dynamics of: the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris), its natural enemies the seven spotted lady beetle Coccinella septempunctata Linnaeus and variegated lady beetle Hippodamia variegata Goeze, and their parasitoid Dinocampus coccinellae (Schrank)

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Two important lady beetle species commonly found in alfalfa fields in Iran are the variegated lady beetle Hippodamia variegata Goeze and the seven spotted lady beetle Coccinella septempunctata (Linnaeus, 1758) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). These two species attack many aphid species including the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris) (Hemiptera: Aphididae). In this study, the seasonal population changes of A. pisum, H. variegata, C. septempunctata and the parasitoid, Dinocampus coccinellae (Schrank) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) were studied in alfalfa fields in the 2012 and 2013 seasonal periods. The highest ladybird densities were noted on July 5, 2012 and on September 6, 2013 (17.2±2.8 and 13.4±1.6) individuals per 20 sweeps, respectively. Parasitism rates by D. coccinellae ranged from approximately 3 to 6% in two subsequent years, respectively. Parasitism was higher early in the growing season. Most parasitised ladybirds were females. There was no significant relationship between the temperature and relative humidity with pea aphid populations, although the aphid populations declined during the hot summer period. In contrast, the relationship between temperature and the H. variegata population was significant and positive in both years of the study. It has been shown that these lady beetle species have a major role in reducing the pea aphid populations in alfalfa fields. Due to the relatively low percentage of field parasitism by D. coccinellae, this parasite might not reduce the biocontrol efficiency of lady beetle species.

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Journal of Plant Protection Research

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