The Rio Grande Valley is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the U.S and is located in the southernmost part of Texas. In October 2013, we detected an exotic plant bug, Nesidiocoris tenuis Reuter (Hemiptera: Miridae: Bryocorinae) occurring in the region. Nesidiocoris tenuis has zoophytophagous habits; however, in the absence of insect prey, it feeds on its plant hosts. After its morphological and genetic identification, this study monitored the population of N. tenuis in its introduction phase in commercial fields and corroborated its establishment in research fields for three years. Populations of N. tenuis were high during the fall and low during winter. This study found that N. tenuis populations were higher in tomato fields as compared to adjacent pepper, okra, and squash fields, indicating its host preferences during the introduction phase. Recurrent population growth patterns suggest that N. tenuis was established in Rio Grande Valley with permanent populations in tomato fields. In addition, N. tenuis populations were affected by tomato cultivar selection and by plastic mulch color. The presence of N. tenuis could establish a new trophic insect relationship for vegetable production. However, it is unknown if the presence of N. tenuis may help to control pests of economic importance, such as whiteflies in cotton, or become a pest on sesame, an emerging crop.

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Published in Insects, v. 12, issue 8, 715.

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This work was supported in part by funds from the Organic Transition Program–NIFA–USDA, grant No. 2010-51106-21803, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and Texas A&M AgriLife Research starting funds assigned to C.A.A.

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The following are available online at https://www.mdpi.com/article/10.3390/insects12080715/s1, File S1: Samples of mtCOI sequences and BLAST scores. It is also available for download as the additional file listed at the end of this record.

insects-12-00715-s001.zip (138 kB)
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