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A risk-based detection survey for the predatory mirid Macrolophus pygmaeus in New Zealand

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 November 2019

John M. Kean*
AgResearch Ltd, Ruakura Research Centre, 10 Bisley Road, Hamilton3214, New Zealand
Sarah Mansfield
AgResearch Ltd, Lincoln Research Centre, 1365 Springs Road, Lincoln 7674, New Zealand
Scott Hardwick
AgResearch Ltd, Lincoln Research Centre, 1365 Springs Road, Lincoln 7674, New Zealand
Diane M. Barton
AgResearch Ltd, Invermay Agricultural Centre, 176 Puddle Alley, Mosgiel 9092, New Zealand
Author for correspondence: John M. Kean, Email:


Macrolophus pygmaeus, a predatory mirid used to manage greenhouse whitefly, was illegally imported into New Zealand, and for a time was reared and sold to commercial tomato growers. We designed and implemented a risk-based detection survey to determine whether M. pygmaeus was still present in New Zealand a decade later. The survey was designed to have an 80% chance of detecting a single low density (0.05 per lineal metre of host plants) population within 1 km of known points of introduction. The survey was implemented between 8 and 15 March 2018. Local habitat constraints meant that the planned sampling had to be modified but this was accounted for in the subsequent analysis. No M. pygmaeus were found in the samples, but 93 specimens from seven other mirid taxa were detected, validating the sample methods. The survey gives 60% confidence that M. pygmaeus was not present at a mean density of 0.05 per lineal metre of habitat. It gives 80% confidence that a population at 0.1 m−1 was not present and 90% confidence that no population exists at >0.18 m−1. Though there are no published data on typical field population densities of M. pygmaeus, for related species the survey would have had high confidence in detecting any medium to high density population present. Therefore, it is likely that M. pygmaeus is no longer present in New Zealand, but if extant within the sampled areas then we have high certainty that it was at low densities compared to other predaceous mirids.

Research Paper
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

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