Battle Of The Bugs

Interest in alternative pest control strategies seems to come and go based on the efficacy of the products currently available to growers. But when their tried and true formulations stop working, there’s a collective scramble to find out what else can be used to manage pest populations. The Pest & Production Management Conference hosted by the Society of American Florists and Greenhouse Grower in Orlando, Feb. 25-27, was the place to be to get the most current information.

Growers also are pursuing alternative methods to help with their sustainable and organic certification initiatives. They want to gain experience with what really works before they abandon or supplement traditional control products. Margins are not forgiving enough for crop failures.

Experimenting With Essential Oils

Raymond Cloyd and his students at Kansas State University have been testing the efficacy of essential oils derived from plants for pest control. The oils are harvested through steam distillation. They are looking at their properties and modes of action to battle pest populations as antifeedants, molting and respiration inhibitors, growth and fecundity reducers and cuticle disrupters.

“These oils may delay or mitigate resistance,” Cloyd says. Other advantages the oils have are being viewed as reduced-risk products by EPA and the potential to be certified for organic production by Organic Materials Review Institute.

Oils being tested include cinnamon, rosemary, clove, garlic, lavender, peppermint and sage. The ones that are most effective also tend to damage plants by causing phytotoxicity. Manufacturers will need to develop the right formulations and assure the oils are harvested from plants consistently. Plant nutrition affects the oils.

Cloyd and his students have also been testing sugar-based compounds to see if insects really have a sweet tooth. SucraShield derived from wild nicotiana really performs more as a desiccant, drying bugs up. He also tested Mountain Dew to attract thrips and it had no impact.

Banking On Beneficials

Lance Osborne of the University of Florida has been working with growers to establish populations of beneficial mites and insects. There are regional considerations when using beneficial predatory mites and insects. Many pests and beneficials are host specific and natural predators can vary. “What works up North doesn’t work here in Florida,” Osborne says. For instance Encarsia sophia is a beneficial wasp that is a natural predator in Florida but has not been commercially available.

Much of Osborne’s work has been developing banker plant systems to establish beneficial populations. Banker plants that are different from the rest of the crop are placed strategically in greenhouses and populated with pests that will not bother the rest of the crop. The pests on banker plants provide food to sustain beneficial predators, which can take care of the rest of the crop. “If you can grow natural enemies, they are very efficient in finding pest populations,” he says.

Examples of banker plants that are being used in greenhouses are ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’ for thrips, corn for mites and papaya for whiteflies. This same system is even being used in landscapes to alleviate the need for sprays. In regions like Florida, where there is no true winter, keeping infestations at bay is a must. Another advantage to using living organisms is no resistance issues occur, as they can with chemical sprays. Over time, pests become resistant as they are naturally selected to survive the sprays.

University of Florida students recently produced a poinsettia crop using biocontrols. Growers could potentially use beneficials for most of the production cycle and then use a chemical product at the very end to get rid of all bugs (good and bad) before plants are ready for retail.

Managing Resistance

Major pests, like whiteflies and thrips, become a target for pesticide resistance, because they are so pervasive. Cindy McKenzie of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Fort Pierce, Fla., has been collecting whitefly samples to identify resistant biotypes. There are 26 whitefly biotypes with type A being native to North and South America, B to Asia Minor and Q to the Mediterranean. Whiteflies were first noted as a pest on tobacco crops in 1889. The B type became a problem in the 1980s on hibiscus.

When the resistant Q type was found in Arizona several years ago, our industry came together to contain it. Growers in California, Florida, Arizona and elsewhere sent in anonymous samples to have them biotyped. Although there have been resistance issues with B and it has a wider host range, B will revert back to being susceptible to pest control products, but Q will not. From 2005-2009 researchers tested 44 different products and formulations on Q and it was resistant to all chemistry classes. Since then Safari, Judo and Kontos have proven to be the most effective.

While Q had been detected in 25 states, there were no new findings in 2009, which means USDA and the industry succeeded in containing it. This cooperative effort has served as a model to tackle more pest problems, like chilli thrips.

One of the biggest issues growers have with thrips is there aren’t enough products on the market to rotate to minimize resistance. One effective product that is being overused is Conserve, says Scott Ludwig from Texas A&M University. He explained chemicals don’t mutate bugs but provide the environment for natural selection. Those that survive create the new populations. Another reason thrips are especially tricky to control is they feed on pollen and burrow inside the centers of the flowers, shielding them from chemical contact.

Just like with the Q-biotype whitefly crisis, leading entomologists have come together to develop a thrips management program with recommendations based on the level of infestation. An aggressive treatment program is recommended when plants are virus hosts and thrips are present. There are also maintenance treatment programs with and without biological controls.

For the most current information and updated mode of action classification charts, visit the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee website. 

Leave a Reply

More From Insect Control...

March 26, 2015

10 Greenhouse Products For First-Rate Growing Environments

From coverings to fork-lifts, greenhouse suppliers offer a variety of products to make growing easier. Check out the slideshow to learn more about these, plus several other products that can offer you value, versatility and durability.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Horticulture Priorities

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadlines Approaching

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More
Latest Stories

February 17, 2015

A New Look At Biological Control: Can Plants Affect The…

The success of a biological control program depends on a number of factors including quality of natural enemies, timing of release, release rates and environmental conditions. However, what is typically not taken into consideration is how plants can affect the performance of natural enemies, including attack rate and searching ability. Biological control agents work hard to protect plants, but plants have ways to help themselves, too.

Read More

February 1, 2015

New Pest Control Products For Your Toolbox

Add one of these new insecticides to your IPM program for successful pest control.

Read More

January 29, 2015

IR-4: A Pest Management Resource For Growers

Almost 40 years ago, IR-4 (Interregional Research Project Number 4) began serving the ornamental horticulture industry, helping to facilitate the registration of pest management tools. IR-4 does this primarily by surveying growers about their pest management issues and then hosting workshops to review survey results and set priorities for the coming years. Most recently, IR-4 coordinated a meeting of researchers and industry members on pollinator health and neonicotinoid chemistries to start a discussion on the needed research. The next step will be to get the outcomes from that workshop out to the public.

Read More

January 28, 2015

Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow: Peace Tree…

Lloyd Traven, a speaker at the upcoming Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow, was one of the industry’s early adopters of biocontrols in the greenhouse. Traven, owner of Peace Tree Farm, is evangelical about the technology as an effective tool for resistance management, as well as improved plant quality that contributes to a grower’s bottom line.

Read More

January 22, 2015

Quality Control With Biocontrols

Make sure the shipment of beneficials that just arrived is viable and ready to go to work in your greenhouse, nursery, or field. Here are five steps you can take to ensure success with your biocontrols.

Read More
As directed by EPA, the bee hazard icon appears in the Directions For Use for each application site for specific use restrictions and instructions to protect bee and other pollinators.

December 9, 2014

Fact Sheet: The Value Of Neonicotinoids To Turf And Orn…

An extensive study of the diverse turf and ornamental industry (“The Green Industry”) reveals that neonicotinoids are the top-rated products used by professionals to control their most important pests in greenhouses, landscapes, lawns, nurseries and trees.

Read More
As directed by EPA, the bee hazard icon appears in the Directions For Use for each application site for specific use restrictions and instructions to protect bee and other pollinators.

December 9, 2014

New Study Finds Neonicotinoids Are Top-Rated Products F…

According to results of a survey by AgInfomatics, professionals in the turf and ornamental industries fear the loss of neonicotinoid products would reduce the quality of their plants and services, increase costs and negatively impact their ability to manage pest resistance.

Read More

November 21, 2014

Ramped-Up Predatory Mite Production To Benefit Growers

Biological pest control company Beneficial Insectary is now producing both Amblyseius (=Neoseiulus) cucumeris and Stratiolaelaps scimitus (formerly Hypoaspis miles) at its facility in California. Domestic production in the U.S. is now benefiting growers in North America by reducing the transit time of perishable predatory mites between producer and grower.

Read More

November 14, 2014

Skagit Gardens To Eliminate Use Of Neonicotinoid Pestic…

Skagit Gardens, a wholesale grower located outside Mount Vernon, Wash., will eliminate all use of neonicotinoid pesticides beginning in January 2015.

Read More

November 11, 2014

Clarification: White House Recommends Sourcing Insectic…

UPDATE: The Obama Administration's addendum to the Sustainable Practices for Designed Landscapes applies only to federal agencies “implementing landscaping practices on agency-owned or leased land or space.”

Read More

October 27, 2014

New Insecticides Offer Alternatives For Growers

Chemistry advances in insecticides broaden growers’ pest management options, without compromising control.

Read More

October 14, 2014

Pollinator Legislation Could Help Solve One Piece Of Th…

AmericanHort encourages industry members to contact their members of Congress to support legislation that would require federal agencies to take greater action to deal with parasite and disease factors impacting the health of managed bees, specifically focusing on Varroa mites.

Read More

October 7, 2014

New Jersey Green Industry Council Will Host Pollinator …

The New Jersey Green Industry Council's 2014 Pollinator Summit is an event and issue briefing for everyone who works in the green industry, agriculture, or related industries. The event will take place Nov. 11 at the National Conference Center, East Windsor, N.J.

Read More

September 22, 2014

Seattle City Council To Vote On Citywide Ban Of Neonico…

On September 17, a committee of the Seattle City Council endorsed a ban on the purchase and use of neonicotinoid products on city property. The measure includes supportive language for sales and use bans for all use patterns, including plants, seeds or products containing neonicotinoids in the city, and support for a national moratorium on products.

Read More
Gary Mangum

August 12, 2014

What Bell Nursery Learned From Growing Without Neonicot…

Determined to find out firsthand what a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides would mean for growers, Bell Nursery CEO Gary Mangum challenged his team to grow without them. Read to find out about the lessons he learned.

Read More
As directed by EPA, the bee hazard icon appears in the Directions For Use for each application site for specific use restrictions and instructions to protect bee and other pollinators.

August 5, 2014

Do You Use Neonicotinoids And Systemic Insecticides? [S…

Take this quick industry survey to help gauge the economic impact of these tools, and inform regulators about their value.

Read More

July 21, 2014

Spider Mites: The Summer Scourge

Spider mite resistance is becoming an increasing problem in greenhouse production. Scouting, biocontrols and miticides can help you take back control of spider mites this summer.

Read More
Joe Bischoff

July 12, 2014

Watch Neonicotinoids: Cutting Through the Clutter Live …

Date: Saturday, July 12 10:45 am – 11:30 am Location: Ballroom 2 Speakers: Joseph Bischoff, PhD, Lin Schmale Description: Much has been written and is being circulated about the impact that neonicotinoid insecticide use could be having on pollinator populations. Because not all the questions yet have sound scientific answers, too much of what is being written is based on hearsay, innuendo, and fear. Now, some local and a few state bodies are weighing restricting neonicotinoid insecticide use. Joe and Lin will present the facts as research has demonstrated them and how to use the neonics effectively and responsibly with minimal non-target effects. This session is open to all attendees. This session may be eligible for pesticide recertification credit. Tracks: Greenhouse, Hot Topics, Landscape, Nursery Speakers: Joseph Bischoff, PhD, Regulatory & Legislative Affairs Director AmericanHort  

Read More