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Updated Bulletin on Biological Control Agents Available

Thu, Jan 25th, 2024, created by Heidi Linberg

In recent years, greenhouse growers have increasingly embraced biological control for pest management. This approach involves implementing preventive strategies, utilizing beneficial organisms and applying biopesticides to keep pest populations below damaging levels.

Growers new to biological control are sometimes overwhelmed by the number and diversity of biological control agents for the most common greenhouse insect and mite pests. In order to help growers understand the beneficial insects and how to use them, Michigan State University Extension partnered with Raymond Cloyd at Kansas State University Extension and Sarah Jandricic at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs to update the bulletin about the commercially-available biocontrol agents in North America.

The 16-page bulletin, "Commercially Available Biological Control Agents for Greenhouse Insect and Mite Pests, (E3299) includes the beneficial insects that control western flower thrips, whiteflies, aphids, twospotted spider mites, mealybugs and fungus gnats. 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.

The bulletin also provides the optimum temperatures for activity of each biological control agent. These temperatures can be used as a guideline for growers to choose which beneficial insect to use under different growing conditions. For example, Neoseiulus cucumeris is considered the better choice in cooler growing conditions (down to 47 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to Amblyseius swirskii (where its optimum temperature is greater than 64 F).

The bulletin also provides commentary that growers may find helpful. For instance, growers are less likely to establish a population of Orius insidiosus in greenhouses from October to March at northern latitudes because females usually enter diapause under short day lengths. However, they can still be released during autumn and winter months, but the next generation won't appear until the photoperiod is sufficiently long.

This bulletin is free and can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website at: Commercially Available Biological Control Agents for Greenhouse Insect and Mite Pests. It is in a standard 8.5-inch by 11-inch format so that growers can laminate and bind the bulletin for use as a training tool or a resource in the greenhouse.

About the Author:

Heidi Linberg

Greenhouse Extension Educator, Michigan State University

Heidi Lindberg is a greenhouse and nursery extension educator based in West Olive, Michigan. She serves growers in western Michigan, especially the dense number of growers in Ottawa, Kent, and Muskegon counties. She provides research-based educational programming and diagnostic support for greenhouse growers in southwest Michigan.

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