To help greenhouse growers understand beneficial insects and how to use them, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and Kansas State University (KSU) Extension have released a new fact sheet about the commercially available biocontrol agents in the U.S. for common greenhouse insect pests.
The six-page fact sheet, titled “Commercially Available Biological Control Agents for Common Greenhouse Insect Pests,” includes beneficial insects that control western flower thrips, whiteflies, aphids, two-spotted spider mites, mealybugs, and fungus gnats.
The bulletin was written by MSU’s Heidi Wollaeger (greenhouse and nursery Extension educator) and Dave Smitley (professor of entomology) and Raymond Cloyd (professor of entomology) of Kansas State University in cooperation with biocontrol suppliers.
Each biocontrol agent has a photo listed with the scientific name, type of predator or parasitoid, and some key facts that will help growers use them in their biocontrol programs.
Wollaeger says that greenhouse growers are increasingly interested in changing their primary pest management strategies to biological controls due to factors such as:
• Increasing resistance of pest insects to chemical controls
• Concerns over insecticide residues on plants and their effects on pollinators
• Buyer restrictions
• Interest in no re-entry intervals
• Reduced risk to pesticide applicators
• Decreased environmental risks
All of these issues can make growers new to biological control feel overwhelmed by the number and diversity of biological control agents for the most common greenhouse insect pests, Wollaeger says.
The bulletin is free and can be downloaded off of the Floriculture Resources Page on the MSU Extension website. The bulletin is number E3299. Growers interested in using these bulletins as a scouting resource or training tool for new growers should laminate and bind the bulletin for continued use.
Note: The commercially available biocontrol agents are the same in Canada with the exception of Leptomastix dactylopii and Anagyrus psedudococci. Cryptolaemus is the only available biological control agent for mealybug in Canada, according to Sarah Jandricic, the greenhouse floriculture IPM specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.