BACKGROUND: New directives on sustainable use of pesticides have encouraged research on efficient alternative pest control methods. In the case of the California red scale (CRS), Aonidiella aurantii (Maskell), this imperative, along with the many difficulties in controlling this pest, have led to the investigation of new approaches. Previously developed mating disruption (MD) dispensers, together with the augmentative releases of the parasitoid Aphytis melinus DeBach, are here considered as a combined strategy for use against A. aurantii.
RESULTS: Efficacy of MD was demonstrated by a mean reduction of 80% in CRS male catches and a mean fruit damage reduction of 83% compared with the control. A delay in the development of A. aurantii instars was observed in the MD plot. This delay increased the period of exposure of the susceptible instars to natural enemies, which resulted in higher predation and parasitism levels in the MD plot. Under laboratory conditions, A. melinus mating behaviour and effects on A. aurantii were not significantly altered in a CRS-pheromone-saturated environment.
CONCLUSION: Mating disruption pheromone did not affect the behaviour or level of parasitism by A. melinus or the incidence of other generalist predators. Therefore, A. aurantii pheromone appears to be compatible with augmentative releases and biological control, making its use a good strategy for CRS management. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry