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Among the herbivorous arthropods that feed on strawberry, the most important are the two-spotted spider mite (TSSM), Tetranychus urticae Koch, and several species of aphids. Mites and aphids belong to different guilds that coexist in the field and feed on the undersides of strawberry leaflets. However, the occurrence of large numbers of individuals of both species on the same leaflet is rarely recorded. We hypothesize that negative interactions between TSSM and aphids explain the intraplant distribution of these herbivores. We first examined the spatial coincidence of both herbivores in the field. Under experimental conditions, we then analyzed: (i) the rate of increase of TSSM and the aphid Chaetosiphon fragaefolii (Cockerell), growing individually and together; (ii) the effect of honeydew on TSSM preference; and (iii) the effect of previous strawberry leaflet damage by TSSM on C. fragaefolii preference. The proportion of TSSM that coincided with at least one aphid decreased as the percentage of leaflets with TSSM increased. The spatial coincidence index between aphids and TSSM increased together with the percentage of TSSM-infested leaflets. TSSM showed both a lower rate of increase when they shared the same leaflet with C. fragaefolii and lower fecundity on strawberry discs with honeydew. The rate of increase of C. fragaefolii did not change on co-occupied leaves, but the aphid species moved to the other side of leaflets shared with TSSM. Negative interactions resulting in a tendency for species to avoid each other, such as demonstrated herein, can affect distribution and performance of herbivorous arthropods.
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