Impact of natural enemies on coffee leafminer Leucoptera coffeella (Lepidoptera: Lyonetiidae) population dynamics in Chiapas, Mexico
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Coffee leafminer, Leucoptera coffeella, is a pest in many New World coffee growing areas. Previous studies suggested that its population dynamics were strongly affected by natural enemies, particularly of larvae, and physical environmental conditions. Our study documented through field surveys and life table analyses (i) the natural enemy complex associated with coffee leafminer and (ii) the impacts of natural enemies on the population dynamics of coffee leafminer, on coffee (Coffea arabica) at two elevations and two rainfall levels in the Soconusco region of Chiapas, Mexico. Twenty-two larval parasitoid species (including 14 morphospecies) were collected. Egg and pupal parasitoids were not recovered. Life table analyses showed that parasitism contributed 10% of real mortality, and parasitism rates were 8-10-fold higher at the low (<550 m) versus high (>950 m) elevation; parasitism rates were similar under low (<100 mm) and high (>400 mm) rainfall. Seventeen predator species (including five morphospecies) were collected, of which most were ants (Formicidae, 14 species) that contributed >58% of real mortality. Life table analyses showed that predation rates were higher at high versus low elevation and under high versus low rainfall. Independently of elevation and rainfall, egg predation (likely by ants) was the most important source of indispensable mortality (range = 0.13-0.30), except at low elevation and high rainfall where pupal predation (=0.14) was similarly important. Also, predation was the main source of coffee leafminer larval and pupal mortality during a 13-month period in a low elevation coffee farm and was highest during the rainy season (>400 mm rainfall/month), when coffee leafminer prevalence was highest. Overall, predation of eggs and pupae (the latter particularly at low elevation), mostly by ants, were the most important sources of coffee leafminer mortality. Because ants were the main source of coffee leafminer egg and pupal mortality, their importance and potential role in coffee pest management strategies were discussed. 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.