Summary

The predators Macrolophus basicornis (Stal), Engytatus varians (Distant) and Campyloneuropsis infumatus (Carvalho) consume large numbers of tomato pests such as Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) and Tuta absoluta (Meyrick). However, they are zoophytophagous and feed on plant parts as well. We evaluated the type and effect of injury caused by nymphs and adults of these mirids on tomato seedlings and fruit in the absence of prey. For each mirid species, seedlings were exposed to groups of 20 nymphs or adults for 72 h, and fruits were exposed for 48 h to groups of four nymphs or adults. Type and the number of injury on stems, petioles and leaflets of tomato seedlings and fruits were recorded after removal of insects. Nymphs and adults of these mirids caused necrotic rings on the leaflets, but no injury was observed on stem and petioles. The necrotic rings on leaflets consisted of blemishes, characterized by feeding punctures surrounded by a yellowish, bleached area. The number of necrotic rings did not exceed one per individual mirid and seedlings developed normally. Nymphs also caused feeding punctures on tomato fruit, but in even lower numbers than on leaflets. Two weeks after the start of the experiment the tomato fruit still looked fresh and feeding punctures had disappeared. Adults did not cause any injury to tomato fruit. The results indicate that nymphs and adults of these zoophytophagous mirids cause little injury to tomato seedlings and fruit, even when present in high densities and in the absence of prey, making them interesting candidates for biological control.