BACKGROUND: The aphid Nasonovia ribisnigri (Mosley) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) and the thrips Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) are common pests in Mediterranean lettuce crops, where Orius spp. are common generalist predators. Predation by Orius spp. was studied in a lettuce plot by conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and real-time PCR analyses using specific primers of both main pests. Also, high-throughput sequencing was used to have a wider approach of the diet of these predators in natural field conditions.