Biocontrol agents for greenhouse pests bulletin available for free download

New fact sheet provides photos and lists the commercially available beneficial insects, their target insects and key facts about biocontrol agents.

"Commercially Available Biological Control Agents for Common Greenhouse Insect Pests" is now available for free.

Greenhouse growers are increasingly more interested in changing their primary pest management strategy to biological control due to:

  • 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.

Growers new to biological control are sometimes overwhelmed by the number and diversity of biological control agents for the most common greenhouse insect pests. In order to help growers understand the beneficial insects and how to use them, Michigan State University Extension and Kansas State University Extension have released a new fact sheet about the commercially-available biocontrol agents in the United States for common greenhouse insect pests. The six-page fact sheet, titled “Commercially Available Biological Control Agents for Common Greenhouse Insect Pests,” includes the beneficial insects that control western flower thrips, whitefly, aphids, twospotted spider mites, mealybugs and fungus gnats. The bulletin was written by myself (greenhouse and nursery Extension educator), Dave Smitley (professor of entomology at MSU) and Raymond Cloyd (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.

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. You can also download the bulletin here: Commercially Available Biological Control Agents for Common Greenhouse Insect Pests.

Greenhouse growers who want to learn more about biocontrols should consider attending the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo Dec. 8-9, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On Dec. 9, two programs will discuss biological control topics. Cloyd will speak on, “Are Using Good Bugs a Cost-Effective Strategy for Controlling Insect Pests of Spring Crops?” Another program will feature a panel of Michigan growers currently using biological controls and will share their experiences in a presentation titled, “Grower Experiences with Insect Biocontrol for Spring Crops.” You can register online or at the door for the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo.

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 Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.

Gerbera with yellow sticky card

Growers are becoming increasingly interested in using biological control for its many benefits. Photo: Heidi Wollaeger, MSU Extension

Commercially available biological control agents for western flower thrips

Predatory mite

Amblyseius swirskii. Predatory mite. Photo: Evergreen Growers Supply

Predatory mite

Neoseiulus cucumeris. Predatory mite. Photo: Koppert Biological Systems

Minute pirate bug

Orius spp. Minute pirate bug. Photo:

Predatory mite

Stratiolaelaps scimitus. Predatory mite. Photo: Evergreen Growers Supply

Beneficial nematode

Steinernema feltiae: Beneficial nematode. Photo: Koppert Biological Systems

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