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Research article2005Peer reviewed

Influence of leaf trichome density on the efficiency of two polyphagous insect predators

Bjorkman C, Ahrne K


Plant characteristics, such as leaf structure or hairiness, are important for the movement and attachment of insects. It has been suggested that increased trichome density on new Salix cinerea L. (Salicaceae) leaves, produced after grazing by the willow leaf beetle Phratora vulgatissima L. (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), function as an inducible defence against the beetle and especially its larvae. Here we studied whether and how two of the main natural enemies of P. vulgatissima, viz., Anthocoris nemorum L. (Heteroptera: Anthocoridae) and Ortothylus marginalis L. (Heteroptera: Miridae), were influenced by trichome density on S. cinerea leaves. The effect of trichome density on these two predators was studied on plants with different trichome densities, comparing natural enemy efficiency, measured as number of P. vulgatissima eggs consumed or larvae missing and/or killed. To obtain different trichome densities, cuttings of several different clones of S. cinerea were used. In the experiment using eggs as prey, an increase in trichome density was, in addition, induced through leaf beetle defoliation on half of the plants of each willow clone. Furthermore, a field study was performed to investigate whether trichome density was correlated with natural enemy abundance. The results indicate that neither the efficiency of these two natural enemies in the greenhouse, nor their abundance in the field was influenced by trichome density. A well-known behavioural difference between the two predator species could probably account for the higher disappearance of larvae after exposure to the more active predator. These findings are relevant for the development of pest management programs, not least because the enemies are polyphagous predators. It is concluded that an induced increase in leaf hairiness in willows in response to leaf beetle grazing could be a plant resistance trait worthy of further study in this system, because no negative effects on the main natural enemies were observed

Published in

Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
2005, Volume: 115, number: 1, pages: 179-186

      SLU Authors

      • Ahrné, Karin

        • Department of Entomology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Forest Science
      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
      Agricultural Science

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)