Nearly 400 growers, researchers, and industry suppliers attended the 2019 Biocontrols USA West Conference & Expo in Portland, OR, in March. In addition to keeping up with the latest research, new products, and grower success stories, attendees were also treated to some breaking news.
Shimon Steinberg, Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Research and Development at Biobee Sde Eliyahu Ltd. Israel, was one of the featured speakers who presented information on the latest research concerning secondary pests that occur in successful biocontrol programs, especially in greenhouse vegetables.
During his presentation, he noted that his Israel-based field research team had noticed in recent years a summer crash of Orius laevigatus predatory bug populations in protected sweet peppers. The population was gradually aging, there was a large majority of adults, fewer nymphs, and eggs weren’t hatching. In the course of a few years, the field team screened thousands of Orius eggs oviposition sites on the plants. Several months ago, they found — for the first time ever recorded — a parasitoid attacking Orius eggs.
“It is a natural enemy of a natural enemy; hence, it is a pest,” Steinberg said, referring to the rare parasitoid species Erythmelus funiculi (Family: Mymaridae). Lab trials confirmed parasitism of more than 80%.
At this point, Steinberg’s team is looking at anything from selective chemicals to yellow sticky traps to manage this pest.
“We are also looking at potential reservoirs of the parasitoid on alternative hosts outside the greenhouse,” he said. “More information to come. The research has just begun.”
The Orius egg parasitoid has not yet been detected in North America, but information is being disclosed to growers and others worldwide through a published scientific paper. In the meantime, Steinberg says he is monitoring where the first record of the parasitoid outside Israel will come from.