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Westerlo, Belgium

Mommaerts V.,Free University of Brussels | Put K.,Biobest NV | Smagghe G.,Free University of Brussels | Smagghe G.,Ghent University
Pest Management Science | Year: 2011

Background: Bombus terrestris L. bumblebees are widely used as commercial pollinators, but they might also be of help in the battle against economically important crop diseases. This alternative control strategy is referred to as pollinator-and-vector technology. The present study was designed to investigate the capacity of B. terrestris to fulfil this role in greenhouse strawberry flowers, which were manually inoculated with a major plant pathogen, the grey mould Botrytis cinerea Pers.: Fr. A model microbiological control agent (MCA) product Prestop-Mix was loaded in a newly developed two-way bumblebee dispenser, and, in addition, the use of the diluent Maizena-Plus (corn starch) was tested. Results: Importantly, loading of the MCA caused no adverse effects on bumblebee workers, with no loss of survival or impairment of flight activity of the workers during the 4 week flowering period. Secondly, vectoring of Prestop-Mix by bumblebees resulted in a higher crop production, as 71% of the flowers developed into healthy red strawberries at picking (preharvest yield) as compared with 54% in the controls. In addition, these strawberries were better protected, as 79% of the picked berries remained free of B. cinerea after a 2 day incubation (post-harvest yield), while this percentage was only 43% in the control. Overall, the total yield (preharvest × post-harvest) was 2-2.5 times higher than the total yield in the controls (24%) in plants exposed to bumblebees vectoring Prestop-Mix. Thirdly, the addition of the diluent Maizena-Plus to Prestop-Mix at 1:1 (w/w) resulted in a similar yield to that of Prestop-Mix used alone, and in no negative effects on the bumblebees, flowers and berries. Conclusions: This greenhouse study provides strong evidence that B. terrestris bumblebees can vector a MCA to reduce B. cinerea incidence in greenhouse strawberries, resulting in higher yields. Similar yields obtained in the treatments with Prestop-Mix and Prestop-Mix + Maizena-Plus suggest an equally efficient dissemination of the biocontrol agent into the flowers with only half the initial concentration of Prestop-Mix, which illustrates the importance of the diluent. © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry. Source

Besard L.,Free University of Brussels | Mommaerts V.,Free University of Brussels | Vandeven J.,Free University of Brussels | Cuvelier X.,Free University of Brussels | And 3 more authors.
Pest Management Science | Year: 2010

BACKGROUND: This project assessed the potential hazards of different classical and novel acaricides against an important non-target and beneficial insect for the pollination of wild flowers and cultivated crops, the bumblebee Bombus terrestris (L). Twenty-three acaricides used commercially in the control of phytophagous mites (Acari) were tested in greenhouses and/or the open field. Side effects included acute mortality and also sublethal effects on nest reproduction. The different compounds were administered in the laboratory via three different worst-case field scenario routes of exposure: dermal contact and orally via the drinking of treated sugar water and via treated pollen. The compounds were tested at their respective maximum field recommended concentration (MFRC), and, when strong lethal effects were observed, a dose-response assay with a dilution series of the MFRC was undertaken to calculate LC50 values. RESULTS: From the different acaricide classes, several chemistries caused high levels of acute toxicity in bumblebee workers, especially bifenthrin and abamectin which resulted in 100% mortality by contact. In addition, several acaricides tested were found to have a detrimental effect on drone production. For oral exposures via treated sugar water, the dose-response assay showed the LC50 values for abamectin, bifenazate, bifenthrin and etoxazole to be 1/15 MFRC (1.17 mg AI L-1), 1/10 MFRC (9.6 mg AI L-1), 1/83 MFRC (0.36 mg AI L-1) and 1/13 MFRC (4.4 mg AI L-1) respectively, indicating that their use should be carefully evaluated. CONCLUSION: Overall, the results suggest that most of the acaricides tested are compatible with bumblebees, with the exceptions of abamectin, bifenazate, bifenthrin and etoxazole. However, the risks also depended on the type of treatment. As a result, the sugar water treatment seems to present the worst-case situation of exposure, indicating that this approach is suitable for determining the hazards of pesticides against bumblebees. Finally, it is suggested that future tier testing under more field-related conditions is required for a final decision of their risks. © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry. Source

Mommaerts V.,Free University of Brussels | Reynders S.,Free University of Brussels | Boulet J.,Free University of Brussels | Besard L.,Free University of Brussels | And 3 more authors.
Ecotoxicology | Year: 2010

Bombus terrestris bumblebees are important pollinators of wild flowers, and in modern agriculture they are used to guarantee pollination of vegetables and fruits. In the field it is likely that worker bees are exposed to pesticides during foraging. To date, several tests exist to assess lethal and sublethal side-effects of pesticides on bee survival, growth/development and reproduction. Within the context of ecotoxicology and insect physiology, we report the development of a new bioassay to assess the impact of sublethal concentrations on the bumblebee foraging behavior under laboratory conditions. In brief, the experimental setup of this behavior test consists of two artificial nests connected with a tube of about 20 cm and use of queenless micro-colonies of 5 workers. In one nest the worker bees constructed brood, and in the other food (sugar and pollen) was provided. Before exposure, the worker bees were allowed a training to forage for untreated food; afterwards this was replaced by treated food. Using this setup we investigated the effects of sublethal concentrations of the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid, known to negatively affect the foraging behavior of bees. For comparison within the family of neonicotinoid insecticides, we also tested different concentrations of two other neonicotinoids: thiamethoxam and thiacloprid, in the laboratory with the new bioassay. Finally to evaluate the new bioassay, we also tested sublethal concentrations of imidacloprid in the greenhouse with use of queenright colonies of B. terrestris, and here worker bees needed to forage/fly for food that was placed at a distance of 3 m from their hives. In general, the experiments showed that concentrations that may be considered safe for bumblebees can have a negative influence on their foraging behavior. Therefore it is recommended that behavior tests should be included in risk assessment tests for highly toxic pesticides because impairment of the foraging behavior can result in a decreased pollination, lower reproduction and finally in colony mortality due to a lack of food. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Source

Mommaerts V.,Ghent University | Mommaerts V.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel | Put K.,Biobest NV | Vandeven J.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel | Smagghe G.,Ghent University
Pest Management Science | Year: 2012

Background: Entomovectoring as a plant protection strategy demands the design of an appropriate bioassay to assess the risks of potential side effects of the powder formulations in the dispenser towards the vectoring insect. This study reports on the development of a laboratory miniature-dispenser-based bioassay. This bioassay system was used to investigate the compatibility of five model products, Prestop-Mix, Signum, kaolin, wheat flour and cellulose, with the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris L. Results: The laboratory one-way miniature-dispenser bioassay showed that the fungicides and the carrier/diluent kaolin caused a worker mortality of > 70% after 5 weeks of exposure, while worker loss with wheat flour and cellulose was no higher than in the blank control (i.e. empty miniature dispenser) (<25%). The laboratory two-way miniature-dispenser bioassay comprised separated passageways and demonstrated that only kaolin was toxic (89 ± 11%). These results were also confirmed in a flight-cage experiment. In addition, a negative effect was observed against reproduction/colony development when nests were exposed to kaolin (P < 0.05) in the two-way miniature-dispenser and flight-cage bioassays. Conclusions: In the context of entomovectoring technology, the developed laboratory two-way miniature-dispenser bioassay gives a reliable prediction of the hazards associated with powder products. Additionally, the present data indicate the possibility of using cellulose and kaolin as respective negative and positive control carriers/diluents in future risk assessment experiments. Overall, the results show that, apart from kaolin, the tested fungicides and carriers/diluents are safe to be used with B. terrestris. © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry. Source

Hughes G.E.,University of Birmingham | Alford L.,University of Birmingham | Sterk G.,Biobest NV | Bale J.S.,University of Birmingham
BioControl | Year: 2010

This study investigates the thermal activity thresholds of the predatory mirid Nesidiocoris tenuis Reuter (Hemiptera: Miridae) and two spotted spider mite Tetranychus urticae Koch (Acari: Tetranychidae). Adult N. tenuis lost locomotory function and entered chill coma at significantly lower temperatures (4.0°C and 0.3°C, respectively) than adult T. urticae (7.0°C and 5.7°C, respectively). However, the mirids were more adversely affected by high temperatures, with T. urticae losing the ability to walk and entering heat coma at higher temperatures (47.3°C and 49.7°C, respectively) than N. tenuis (43.5°C and 46.6°C, respectively). Across a range of temperatures (2.5-20°C) adult N. tenuis had faster walking speeds than T. urticae. These data are discussed in relation to the climatic conditions under which N. tenuis would be an effective biocontrol agent. © 2010 International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC). Source

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