BACKGROUND: Three groups of natural enemies are fundamental in citrus IPM in Spain: coccinellid and phytoseiid predators and hymenopteran parasitoids. Tetranychus urticae Koch is an important pest affecting citrus, for which biological control has not yet been achieved; therefore, acaricides are commonly used to control it. The goal of this study was to measure the efficacy of different acaricides on this mite and their side effects on three natural enemies relevant for citrus (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Mulsant, Neoseiulus californicus McGregor and Aphidius colemani Viereck).
RESULTS: Some products proved highly effective against T. urticae and harmless to A. colemani (mineral oil, tebufenpyrad, clofentezine and fenazaquin). However, almost all products tested were slightly harmful for both the predators considered. Fenazaquin was even moderately harmful for N. californicus.
CONCLUSION: Further studies, like that presented here, are necessary to gain a better understanding of integrating biological and chemical controls. When considering both efficacy and side effects on beneficial arthropods, the best options would seem to be mineral oil, tebufenpyrad and clofentezine. However, it is urgent to complete testing of the side effects of the acaricides used in citrus. This question is crucial if the fact that two recently introduced Tetranychidae are being controlled in citrus by chemical means exclusively is considered. Copyright © 2008 Society of Chemical Industry