The natural enemies of the olive moth Prays oleae (Bernard, 1788)

The olive moth is an important pest of olives in the Mediterranean region, developing three generations per year that damage different organs of the olive tree: the phyllophagous generation feeds on leaves and buds, the anthophagous generation feeds on flower buds and flowers, and the carpophagous generation feeds on the fruit. This pest has a great number of natural enemies whose action contributes to reduce the pest numbers and damage, and losses do not always reach worrying levels. These natural enemies include parasitoids, predators and other organisms that cause diseases (such as entomopathogenic bacteria, fungus, and virus). The parasitoids, with more than known 40 species, can destroy more than 80% of the pest population. Common parasitoid species are Ageniaspis fuscicollis var. praysincola (Dalman) and Chelonus elaeaphilus Silvestris.

The efficacy of predators, harder to quantify, can also be important. In these organisms stand out chrysopids, particularly Chrysoperla carnea (Stephens), which in some regions can destroy about 80 – 90% of olive moth eggs. Predator heteropterans such as the anthocorid Anthocoris nemoralis (Fabricius), and mirids, or ants are also known as important olive moth predators. Recently, through genomic analysis of guano, it was demonstrated that the olive moth is also part of bats ́ diet mainly adults of anthophagous generation. Insectivorous birds have been also related with the olive moth predation. Under a conservation biological control point of view, natural enemies should be conserved, countering conditions that limit their populations such as habitat loss and environmental disturbance.

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