In vegetable greenhouse crops integrated / biological control has been used successfully for very many years. Tomato growers are familiar with the use of predatory mites against spider mites and parasitoid wasps against white fly for around 40-50 years now. Their success stories convinced other growers to start with this way of pest control. Moreover the high demands made on products concerning food safety and strong restrictions of possible emissions of chemical control products from resources into the environment have given an extra boost to the use of biological control in greenhouse vegetable production. Currently, the majority of greenhouse vegetable growers are working with biological control agents and they are very happy with them.
Which product to use?
Which biocontrol agent is the best one to use depends on crop, conditions and spectrum of all pests present. Some species can use pollen as an additional food source and therefor they perform better in pollen-containing crops. This holds especially for thrips biocontrol agents, such as Orius. Aphid biocontrol agents preferably are good searchers that act very quickly because aphids often develop very rapidly and relatively unnoticed until serious damage is found. The predatory bug Macrolophus is in several crops an excellent biocontrol agent of white fly but it takes time to build up a population. Now that we know these characteristics we use them in setting up an introduction program for biocontrol agents for particular situations.
Biocontrol of Aphids
In a number of crops, especially in organic farming, aphids can cause many problems. They develop explosively from hot spots and the crop can turn "greasy" in a relatively short period of time. There are several products on the market against aphids but still problems are not 100% solved in all crops. in 2017 we have introduced a new product on the market, the 14-spot ladybug PROPYLEA. In former years we have done trials with it and found that it is very active, fast moving and a good searcher. Best is to use it from early season on, in preventative introductions in crops that are known to be susceptible for aphid attack. Especially in organic vegetable production this product may be very useful. More info can be obtained from the above button.
Biocontrol of Mealybug
Now that growers are more and more using biological control, they also occasionally encounter pests that they did not suffer from before. Mealybug is a such an example. Tomato growers now know the damage that mealybug can cause in their crops. They also know that mealyug can be very persistent and may return on the same spots year after year. Local application of chemical pesticides is insufficient. Local introduction of larvae of the predator Cryptolaemus can bring adequate control. In addition to this predator, we have several more products, parasitic wasps that work specifically against pests like mealybugs. With these products we build up experience in finding the best way of using them in different crops and against different mealybug species. If you want to know more about it, fill in the contact form via the button above.