A Guild-Based Protocol to Target Potential Natural Enemies of Philaenus spumarius (Hemiptera: Aphrophoridae), a Vector of Xylella fastidiosa (Xanthomonadaceae): A Case Study with Spiders in the Olive Grove.
The control of the vector population is an essential part of plant pests’ containment and eradication strategies. The spittlebug Philaenus spumarius is the principal ascertained vector of Xylella fastidiosa in Mediterranean regions’ olive groves. Tools to curb the insect’s proliferation can be mechanical, chemical and biological, the latter being the most acceptable for society at large.
Thus, research on biological agents is ongoing, following diverse pathways. Spiders are a relevant target, as they are generalist predators that feed mostly on insects, contributing to limit pests.
In this work, scientists collected field data (in Northeastern Portugal) and laboratory data to provide a protocol for facilitating the selection of spiders’ species that could represent potential natural enemies of P. spumarius.
The protocol relies on an approach based on ecological guilds (i.e., different groups of organisms using a resource in the same way) as it can accelerate decision-making. The paper suggests that proceeding by selecting functional counterparts, such as different predators species occurring at different locations that use the same prey (e.g., a pest) in the same way (e.g., hunting strategy), can be a way to facilitate developing biological control schemes. The proposed protocol provides a time-saving, reproducible, and geographical context-free approach for targeting a spider species as a potential natural enemy of P. spumarius.