Natural and human causes of earwig mortality during winter : temperature, parasitoids and soil tillage
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Journal of applied entomology. - Berlin
, p. 490-500
University of Antwerp
Beneficial arthropods are often used for suppressing specific pest outbreaks in agricultural crop systems. The European earwig, Forficula auricularia L., (Dermaptera: Forficulidae), is an important natural enemy in fruit orchards. Recently, ecological studies were published describing earwig dispersal and survival during summer, hereby revealing clear differences between populations with a single brood (SBP) and two broods a year (DBP). In this article, we will describe three potential mortality factors of earwigs during the underground winter period, namely cold temperatures, parasitoids and soil tillage. This knowledge is essential for making efficient management strategies for increasing earwig abundance in fruit orchards. The effect of cold temperatures was checked during a 3-year semi-field experiment. Parasitism rates of Triarthria spp. (Fallén) and Ocytata pallipes (Fallén) (Diptera: Tachinidae) were obtained in a rearing experiment. The negative effect of soil tillage on the survival of earwigs nests was checked in a field experiment covering a 4-year time period. A strong, negative relation between temperature [cooling day degrees (CDD)] and survival of female and male earwigs during winter was found. Male earwigs of SBP died very quickly, mimicking natural conditions. Between 60% and 90% of females do not survive winter. Survival of females in DBP was higher than in SBP. Parasitism rates vary a lot between species, generation, year and location (020%). During winter, we found a maximum mortality of 13%. There is a clear trend that soil tillage can reduce the number of nymphs in spring and summer by 50%. Implications for biocontrol are the following: (i) mortality owing to temperature can be predicted using CDD and if necessary preventive management actions can be undertaken to control pests; (ii) parasitism rates are negligible compared to high impact of temperature; and (iii) soil tillage can be timed more accurately using a recently developed day degree model.