Banks Grass Mite (Acari: Tetranychidae) Suppression May Add to the Benefit of Drought-Tolerant Corn Hybrids Exposed to Water Stress

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Economic Entomology






Oxford University Press

Publication Date


Award Number

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) 2019-67014-29639


National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

First Page


Last Page



Spider mite (Acari: Tetranychidae) outbreaks are common on corn grown in the arid West. Hot and dry conditions reduce mite development time, increase fecundity, and accelerate egg hatch. Climate change is predicted to increase drought incidents and produce more intense temperature patterns. Together, these environmental shifts may cause more frequent and severe spider mite infestations. Spider mite management is difficult as many commercially available acaricides are ineffective due to the development of resistance traits in field mite populations. Therefore, alternative approaches to suppress outbreaks are critically needed. Drought-tolerant plant hybrids alleviate the challenges of growing crops in water-limited environments; yet, it is unclear if drought-tolerant hybrids exposed to water stress affect mite outbreaks under these conditions. We conducted a greenhouse experiment to evaluate the effect of drought-tolerant corn hybrids on Banks grass mite [Oligonychus pratensis Banks (Acari: Tetranychidae)], a primary pest of corn, under optimal irrigation and water-stress irrigation. This was followed by a 2-yr field study investigating the effect of drought-tolerant corn hybrids exposed to the same irrigation treatments on Banks grass mite artificially infested on hybrids and resident spider mite populations. Results showed that water-stressed drought-tolerant hybrids had significantly lower Banks grass mite and resident spider mite populations than water-stressed drought-susceptible hybrids. Interestingly, water-stressed drought-tolerant hybrids had equal Banks grass mite populations to drought-susceptible and drought-tolerant hybrids under optimal irrigation. We posit that planting drought-tolerant hybrids may suppress spider mite outbreaks in water-challenged areas.