Spined soldier bug
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|Spined soldier bug|
|spined soldier bug eating mexican bean beetle larvae|
The spined soldier bug (Podisus maculiventris) is a species of insect common in North America. They are predators of gypsy moth caterpillars and the larvae of beetles such as the Colorado potato beetle and the Mexican bean beetle. Since the Mexican bean beetle is widely regarded as a notorious agricultural pest in North America, soldier bugs are generally considered useful garden insects.
This insect is a generalist predator with a broad host range, reportedly attacking 90 insect species, which includes several important economic pests. Reported prey include the larvae of Mexican bean beetle, European corn borer, diamondback moth, corn earworm, beet armyworm, fall armyworm, cabbage looper, imported cabbageworm, Colorado potato beetle, velvetbean caterpillar, and flea beetles. When prey are scarce, the spined soldier bug may feed on plant juices, but this feeding is not reported to cause plant damage. Podisus maculiventris is associated with several crops including alfalfa, apples, asparagus, beans, celery, cotton, crucifers, cucurbits, eggplant, potatoes, onions, soybeans, sweet corn and tomatoes. The effectiveness of this species in preying on economic pests resulted in its use in classical biological control programs in other countries, including Eastern Europe and Russia. However, this has not been successful in colder climates, perhaps due to an inability of overwinter. Podisus maculiventris eggs are also sold commercially for use in control programs and this has proven successful in controlling pests in European and North American heated greenhouses. Use in large area field crops is often not economically viable due to the production costs of raising the bug. In addition, naturally occurring populations often are not numerous enough to overpower large populations of pests in the spring. Pheromones have been used to draw naturally occurring and newly emerging populations of this stink bug to target crops in the spring.
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