Podisus – The Ultimate Caterpillar Predator
Identification and Biology : Adult Podisus are pale brown, 0.8 – 1.5 cm long and have prominent spines on thorax. The eggs range from cream colored to black, laid in clusters. 1st instar nymphs are solid dark red colored; older nymphs have ornate, brightly colored patterns of red, black, and yellow-orange.
Mode of action: Podisus can kill prey much larger than themselves and are predatory as L2 to L5 nymphs and adults . They have long sword-like mouthparts which are folded underneath their bodies when not in use. They stab their prey with their mouthparts, injecting digestive enzymes which immobilize and pre-digest their prey. The slurry of predigested caterpillar is then sucked up through their hollow mouthpart, akin to drinking a protein shake through a straw.
Introduction method and release rates: Introduce the nymphs by distributing in small groups into hotspots. Adult Podisus are highly mobile and will spread rapidly throughout the crop by walking and flying. Nymphs can walk easily from plant to plant when plants are touching each other. Eggs can be distributed in bioboxes to prevent them falling to the floor, or they can be hatched inside the original shipping vial and tapped directly onto the crop. Podisus must be released early and release rates vary depending on crop, target pest, climate and budget. Consult your service provider for recommendations.
Storage: Introduce the beneficials as soon as possible after receipt. If storage is necessary, keep them at 8 – 10 °C (46 – 50 °F). If storage is longer then 1 day, store them at 5 °C (41 °F).
Egg: The egg is approximately 1 mm in diameter, with long projections around the operculum that are especially characteristic of Podisus spp. Eggs are laid 17 to 70 at a time in loose oval masses.
1st instar: This instar has a length of 1.3 to 1.5 mm. The head width, including the eyes, is 0.6 mm and the humeral is 0.9 mm wide. The 1st instar nymph of P. maculiventris has a blackish head and thorax and reddish abdomen with black dorsal and lateral plates.
2nd instar: This instar has a length 2.5 to 3.0 mm. The head width is 0.9 mm and the humeral is 1.3 mm wide. As in other asopine nymphs, the 2nd instar nymph begins to feed on other insects. This species is highly cannibalistic. The 2nd instar resembles the 1st instar.
3rd instar: This instar has a length 3.5 to 4. 0 mm. The head width is 1.3 mm and the humeral is 2.0 mm wide. The 3rd instar nymph has a black head and thorax while the the abdomen is reddish with black, orange and white maculations. The central bar-shaped markings are white and the lateral markings orange.
4th instar: This instar has a length approximately 6 mm. The head width is 1.7 mm and the humeral is 3.2 mm wide. The colorations and patterns of the 4th instar nymph are similar to that of the 3rd instar nymph, but the wing pads become noticeable.
5th instar: This instar has a length 8 to 10 mm. The head width is 2.2 mm and the humeral is 4.8 mm wide. The wing pads are prominent in the 5th instar, and the head and thorax become mottled with brown. The abdominal markings are white or tan, and black.