The economically important brown stink bug, Euschistus servus (Say) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae), is a native pest of many crops in southeastern United States and insecticide applications are the prevailing method of population suppression. To elucidate biological control of E. Servus populations, we investigated two egg predators' (red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), and Geocoris spp. (Hemiptera: Geocoridae)) responses to both local and landscape factors that may have influenced their combined ability to cause mortality in immature E. Servus. We estimated the density of fire ants and Geocoris spp. on four major crop hosts - maize, peanut, cotton, and soybean - in 16 landscapes over 3 yr in the coastal plain of Georgia, USA. Both Geocoris spp. and fire ant populations were concentrated on specific crops in this study, maize and soybean for Geocoris spp. and peanut and cotton for fire ants, but the percentage area of specific crops and woodland and pasture in the landscape and year also influenced their density in focal fields. The crop specific density of both taxa, the influence of the percentage area of specific crops and woodland in the landscape, and the variability in density over years may have been related to variable alternative resources for these omnivores in the habitats. Despite the variability over years, differential habitat use of fire ants and Georcoris spp. may have contributed to their combined ability to cause E. Servus immature mortality.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Andy Hornbuckle, Melissa Thompson, and numerous student workers for their help in the field. The project was supported by the National Research Initiative of the US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (grant number 2008-35302-04709 to D.A.A., D.M.O., and J.R.R.).
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