Aggregation and development of the gorse spider mite Tetranychus lintearius dufour (acari: tetranychidae)
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Gorse, Ulex europaeus, is a serious weed of agriculture and forestry in New Zealand. The mite Tetranychus lintearius feeds on gorse in Europe and was released in New Zealand during autumn 1989 as a potential biological control agent. The aim of my laboratory study was to increase available knowledge on its development and aggregation. As the quality of gorse declined as a food resource (as indicated by chlorophyll content) a significant decline in egg production, and an increase in development time of mites was found. Mean egg production at 15℃ ranged from 37.8 to 45.2 eggs/female over 10 days in the experimental treatments and development time from 39.2 to 43.3 days. Density of adult female mites (1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20/spine) also had a significant effect on the number of eggs produced/female over ten days (mean daily egg production/female, 0.78-0.88). Mean development time from egg to adult decreased from 40.6 to 39 days as density increased from 1 to 50 mites/spine. The resident New Zealand strain of T lintearius, imported originally from Cornwall, is now widely established but has not established successfully on the west coast of the South Island or in the north of the North Island. Four new strains recently introduced from coastal Portugal and Spain, areas climatically similar to these New Zealand regions, may be more successful. Thus, although egg production and survival of all strains were significantly reduced when subjected to daily periods of simulated rainfall in laboratory experiments, those of the newly introduced strains were least affected. Laboratory experiments with the resident New Zealand and Cambados strains also showed that individuals aggregated actively at 10-20℃, but the latter aggregated more strongly at these temperatures. This strong aggregation behaviour may increase survival in warm, wet climates and suggests that Cambados strain mites could become established and so increase gorse control in Westland and Northland.