Date of this Version
PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214325 March 26, 2019 1 / 14
Stink bugs (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) are significant pests of cotton and soybeans in the southeastern United States with annual control costs exceeding $14 million in these crops. Three of the most prominent stink bug pests are the southern green (Nezara viridula), brown (Euschistus servus) and green (Chinavia hilaris) stink bugs. To determine trophic linkages between generalist arthropod predators and these pests, species-specific 16S molecular markers were designed and used to detect the presence of prey DNA in predator gut-contents. Over 2700 predators were collected over two growing seasons in cotton and soybean in southern Georgia in 2011 and 2012 and screened for stink bug DNA. Trophic linkages were analyzed relative to prey availability, crop type and field location. The frequency of stink bug DNA in predator guts was negligible on E. servus (0.23%) and C. hilaris (0.09%). Overall gut content detection of N. viridula was 3.3% and Geocoris sp. (Hemiptera: Geocoridae), Orius sp. (Hemiptera: Anthocoridae) and Notoxus monodon (Coleoptera: Anthicidae) were the primary predators. This contrasts with previous studies that reported a much more diverse suite of predators consuming stink bugs with much higher frequency of gut-content positives. The discrepancy between studies highlights the need for replicating studies in space and time, especially if the goal is to implement effective and durable conservation biological control in integrated pest management.