Evaluation of Ten Groundcovers as a Landscape Banker Plant for Amblyseius swirskii
A research project was conducted, in partnership with University of Florida Extension Specialists, evaluating different landscape groundcovers as potential banker plants for a predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii(McGregor). Previous studies have shown A. swirskii feeds on important pests including whiteflies and thrips, and is also possiblysustained on the pollen or extrafloral nectaries of plants such as pepper, Capsicum annuumL. Groundcovers expected to provide favorable conditions for A. swirskiiand potential to be used as a companion plant to landscape roses were evaluated: sterile lantana, Lantana camara(L.) ‘Gold Mound’; sensitive plant, Mimosa strigillosa(Torr. and A. Gray); alyssum ‘Snow Princess’™, Lobularia hybrid(L.); beach sunflower, Helianthus debilis(Nutt.); ‘Hip Hop’ Euphorbia, Euphorbia hypericifolia‘Hip Hop’™; stoloniferous perennial peanut, Arachis pintoi (Krapovikas and W.C. Gregory); blue daze, Evolvulus glomeratus; verbena, Verbenasp.; wild petunia, Ruellia caroliniensis(J.F. Gmel.); and black foot daisy, Zinnia paladosa. Five replications were studied in two 4-week trials. Plants were enclosed within screen cages, infested with 30 predatory mites, and maintained in a greenhouse. The tallest three meristems were inspected with a hand lens weekly. Numbers of predators and other pertinent observations were recorded. At the end of the trial, remaining predators were collected using Burlese funnels. Significantly (P= 0.0001) more mites were collected from alyssum ‘Snow Princess’™ than other treatments.