Coccinellids as biological control agents of soft bodied insects: A review
Ajaz Ahmad Kundoo and Akhtar Ali Khan
Ladybird beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) are a species-rich, ecologically diverse group of substantial agricultural significance, inhabit in all types of terrestrial ecosystems. In the present review the biological control of soft bodied insects by ladybird beetles is analyzed. The family Coccinellidae comprises 6,000 described species worldwide, of which 90% are considered beneficial predators and is divided into six subfamilies: Sticholotidinae, Chilocorinae, Scymninae, Coccidulinae, Coccinellinae and Epilachninae although a recent phylogeny suggests a seventh subfamily, Ortaliinae. They have great economic importance as natural enemies, exhibit a predatory nature against many soft bodied insect pests such as aphids (Aphididae: Homoptera), scale insects and mealy bugs (coccoidea: Homoptera), whiteflies (Aleyrodidae: Homoptera), Thrips (Thripidae: Thysanoptera), jassids (Cicadellidae: Homoptera), psyllids (Psyllidae; Homoptera), small larvae, insect eggs, and phytophagous mites. These have been used in both classical and augmentative biological control programmes and are also considered important in conservation biological control programmes. They are of high priority in organic cropping and integrated pest management systems.