Friend or foe? The role of earwigs in a Mediterranean organic citrus orchard

Carla Romeu-Dalmau, Josep Piñol, Xavier Espadaler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As earwigs (Insecta: Dermaptera) are considered both effective predators of aphids and pests in their own right in citrus orchards, the aim of the present study was to examine their relative role as pest versus predator. We conducted a two-year experiment of earwig exclusion from citrus canopies and compared aphid infestation, flower survival and fruit yield in trees with earwigs (control trees) with those in trees without earwigs (banded trees). However, as not only earwigs but also all other crawling insects were excluded from the banded trees, we added a third group of trees (earwig trees) where crawling insects were excluded but earwigs were added to the canopy every 1-2. weeks. We hypothesized that if the same results were obtained in control and earwig trees, and both differed from those obtained in banded trees, earwigs would most probably be the cause of these differences. Overall, aphid infestation in trees with earwigs was less severe than aphid infestation in trees without earwigs; we also found that aphid density was negatively related to earwig abundance. Earwigs also negatively influenced flower survival but this effect was no longer observed once trees naturally abscised their own flowers and fruitlets. Finally, we did not find any difference in fruit yield between the treatments, or any relationship between earwig abundance and fruit production. Thus, as earwigs appeared to control aphid populations while not affecting fruit yield, we can conclude that earwigs are beneficial insects in this Mediterranean organic citrus orchard. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-149
JournalBiological Control
Volume63
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012

Keywords

  • Aphids
  • Biological control
  • European earwig
  • Flower survival
  • Forficula auricularia
  • Fruit yield

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