Organic lettuce, Lactuca sativa L., producers on California’s Central Coast rely on endemic syrphid flies (Diptera: Syrphidae) to suppress populations of Nasonovia ribisnigri Mosley (Homoptera: Aphididae) and other aphids affecting lettuce. Growers are using various forms of habitat manipulation to enhance biological control. We surveyed syrphids collected from organic romaine in and around the Salinas Valley from March through September 2005 to gain a better understanding of the species responsible for aphid suppression and to examine possible implications for biocontrol. The primary species of syrphid fly reared were Toxomerus marginatus (Say) (39%), Platycheirus stegnus (Say) (27%), Sphaerophoria sulfuripes (Thomson) (13%), and Allograpta obliqua (Say) (10%). Syrphus opinator Osten Sacken (2%), Toxomerus occidentalis (Curran) (1.3%), and Eupeodes volucris Osten Sacken (1%) were less common. Sphaerophoria pyrrhina Bigot, Scaeva pyrastri (L.), Platycheirus obscurus Say, Allograpta exotica Wiedemann, and Eupeodes americanus Wiedemann each made up <1% of the syrphids reared. T. marginatus and Sphaerophoria sulfuripes were commonly collected from romaine plants with few or no detectable aphids. P. stegnus was observed to deposit in clusters of eggs, and was only reared in significant numbers from highly infested fields. Approximately 5% of syrphid larvae overall were parasitized by either Diplazon sp. (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) or Pachyneuron sp. (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae).
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Vol. 100 • No. 1