The parasitoid Encarsia formosa Gahan (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae) has been used successfully for the control of Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood) (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). The development of UV-blocking plastic films has added a new component to future integrated pest management systems by disrupting insect pest infestation when UV light is excluded. Because both T. vaporariorum and E. formosa are reported to have similar spectral efficiency, there was a need to identify the impact of UV-blocking films on the dispersal behavior of both the pest and the natural enemy. In field studies, using choice-chamber experiments, E. formosa showed some preference to disperse into compartments where less UV light was blocked. However, further studies indicated that the effect was primarily attributable to the different light diffusion properties of the films tested. Thus, unlike its whitefly host, when the UV-absorbing properties of the films were similar, but the light diffusion properties differed, E. formosa adults preferred to disperse into compartments clad with films that had high light diffusion properties. When the plastic films differed most in their UV-absorbing capacity and had no light-diffusion capability, the initial dispersal of E. formosa between treatments was similar, although a small preference toward the environment with UV light was observed over time. When parasitoid dispersal was measured 3 h after release, more parasitoids were found on plants, suggesting that the parasitoids would search plants for whitefly hosts, even in a UV-blocked light environment. The potential for the integration of UV-blocking films with E. formosa in an advanced whitefly management system is discussed.
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Vol. 100 • No. 1