Thermal thresholds of the predatory mite Balaustium hernandezi


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The lower and upper thermal activity thresholds of adult and larval Balaustium hernandezi von Heyden (Acari: Erythraeidae) are compared with those of its prey Tetranychus urticae Koch (Acari: Tetranychidae). Adult female B. hernandezi retain ambulatory function (CTmin) and movement of appendages (chill coma) at significantly lower temperatures (5.9 and −2.1 °C, respectively) than those of larval B. hernandezi (8.1 and −1.7 °C) and T. urticae (10.6 and 10.3 °C). There is no significant difference between the temperature at which adult and larval B. hernandezi and T. urticae cease walking as the temperature is raised (CTmax) (46.7, 46.3 and 47.3 °C, respectively). However, both life stages of B. hernandezi cease movement (heat coma) below the upper locomotory limits of T. urticae (46.8, 46.7 and 48.7 °C, respectively). Adult B. hernandezi have significantly faster walking speeds than larvae and T. urticae across a range of temperatures. The lower thermal activity threshold data indicate that B. hernandezi would make an effective biological control agent in temperate climates; however, the extent of the low temperature tolerances of the species suggests the potential to establish in a northern European climate.