Assessment of the Biological Control Potential of Common Carabid Beetle Species for Autumn- and Winter-Active Pests (Gastropoda, Lepidoptera, Diptera: Tipulidae) in Annual Ryegrass in Western Oregon

Insects. 2020 Oct 22;11(11):722. doi: 10.3390/insects11110722.


While carabid beetles have been shown to feed on a variety of crop pests, little is known about their species assemblages in US annual ryegrass crops, where invertebrate pests, particularly slugs, lepidopteran larvae and craneflies, incur major financial costs. This study assesses the biological control potential of carabid beetles for autumn- and winter-active pests in annual ryegrass grown for seed by: (a) investigating the spatial and temporal overlap of carabids with key pests; and (b) molecular gut content analysis using qPCR. Introduced Nebria brevicollis was the only common carabid that was active during pest emergence in autumn, with 18.6% and 8.3% of N. brevicollis collected between September and October testing positive for lepidopteran and cranefly DNA, respectively, but only 1.7% testing positive for slug DNA. While pest DNA was also detected in the guts of the other common carabid species-Agonum muelleri, Calosoma cancellatum and Poecilus laetulus-these were active only during spring and summer, when crop damage by pests is less critical. None of the four carabid species was affected by disk tilling and only N. brevicollis was significantly associated with a vegetated field margin. However, as its impact on native ecosystems is unknown, we do not recommend managing for this species.

Keywords: Deroceras reticulatum; Nebria brevicollis; Noctua pronuba; conservation biological control; molecular gut content analysis; qPCR; slugs.