Temporal activity of spiders and earwigs during winter in apple trees under a Mediterranean climate

Abstract : It is well known that spiders are present in high numbers in orchards and may contribute to biocontrol. Some recent studies in central Europe further showed that some spiders are active year-round and consume pests even in winter. Using cardboard traps laid every two weeks, we carried out a survey to determine which spider and earwig species are active from September to May in an experimental, pesticide-free, apple orchard under a Mediterranean climate. We observed that spider activity was never completely absent. The structure of the spider communities showed a marked seasonality in three periods (so-called 'autumn', 'winter' and 'spring'). Only two spider genera, Philodromus and Trachelas, were highly active in winter (percentage of catches during this season above 40%) and six others (Lathys, Clubiona, Gnaphosa, Theridion, Phrurolithus) had moderate activity (between 20 and 40%). The two earwig species had different patterns of winter activity with Forficula auricularia almost absent whereas F. pubescens was moderately active on trees. Spider community abundance, diversity and evenness significantly decreased between autumn and winter and remained low in the following spring probably because the attractiveness of the traps is much lower at this time of year due to mild temperatures and the presence of leaves on the trees. Winter-active spiders could contribute to pest biocontrol during the cold season and we advocate that the use of broad-spectrum pesticides at the end of winter, as classically applied in orchards, may be counter-productive for pest control. ARTICLE HISTORY
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Sadeq Alzubik Belkair, Christophe Mazzia, Alain Pasquet, Yvan Capowiez. Temporal activity of spiders and earwigs during winter in apple trees under a Mediterranean climate. Biocontrol Science and Technology, Taylor & Francis, 2018, 28 (9), pp.823-836. ⟨10.1080/09583157.2018.1499870⟩. ⟨hal-02022105⟩

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