Pollinating Outdoor Crops Using Western BumblebeesAdded onSeptember 21, 2013
Bumblebees have been successfully used worldwide for more than two decades for the pollination of protected crops, largely in greenhouse tomato production. In Europe,where growers can find native species on the market, bumblebees have been used as a reliable alternative to honey bee pollination in open-field crops. Strawberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, apple, pear, cherry and apricot are among the many field crops that benefit from the efficient work of bumblebees. In North America, up to now, the use of bumblebees has been limited to greenhouses due to environmental concerns regarding the potential negative effects of releasing non-native species on populations of native bumblebees and other pollinators. As the availability of honey bees is decreasing, due mainly to bee health issues, the demand for alternative pollinators in open-field crops is on the rise. The company pioneering in rearing and marketing of bumblebees as alternative pollinators for more than 25 years, Biobest Biological Systems, is addressing this need by developing a Western bumblebee species for use in outdoor crops. Several Western species have been collected and are now being reared successfully at Biobest facilities. The next step is the selection of an appropriate candidate species for the US-Canada market. For that purpose, Biobest is carrying out trials during the spring of 2013 in order to select the species of bumblebees that proves most successful in crop pollination. North American fruit growers may soon take advantage of the use of the Western bumblebee to address the shortage of honey bees and guarantee crop yields.
A Mechanical Release System for Predator InsectsAdded onSeptember 21, 2013
Controlling the Colorado Potato Beetle
The Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB) is a serious pest for potatoes. Both adults and larvae feed on foliage and may skeletonize the crop.
Beetle populations are usually suppressed by insecticides on commercial farms. However, the ability of the CPB to develop insecticide resistance makes it a challenging pest to manage. The use of natural predators is a green alternative to chemical pesticides.
The spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris, is a generalist predator native to North America that attacks all CPB developmental stages without damaging the plants. Field experiments have shown that Podisus can significantly suppress CPB in potato. A major challenge to the use of these predators against the CPB is the high cost of manual distribution of predators in the field.
Recently, a mechanical distributor of predators has been successfully designed and built by a research team at the Department of Soils and Agri-Food Engineering at Laval University. They have been working for more than six years 6 years on the development of this apparatus.
The prototype distributor has been successfully operated by potato growers in the field. Using this distributor, masses of predators are placed in small containers and mixed with a carrier material. The containers are mechanically opened at different locations. These locations are determined in advance following field monitoring visits to determine the populations of CPB (Khelifi and Da Ladurantaye, 2012). Although this mechanical distributor has been specifically designed to release Podisus in the field, it could also be used to release other insects to protect many other crops such as eggplant and strawberry.
Podisus maculiventris reared at The Bug Factory has been used to test the predator distributor in the field. Podisus can be purchased as eggs and nymphs from The Bug Factory. They are an excellent choice for controlling caterpillars.
For further information please refer to:
De Ladurantaye, Sylvain; Khelifi, Mohamed. Design of a mechanical release system of predator insects to control the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say). Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering (2012) 756-762.
Dicyphus hesperus Knight (Heteroptera, Miridae)Added onSeptember 21, 2013
Whitefly is a close relative of aphids, which suck the sap from plants. It is becoming a problematic greenhouse pest worldwide. Greenhouse crops such as tomato, cucumber, egg plant, gerbera, and poinsettia are damaged by whitefly.
The Bug Factory has been successfully mass rearing Dicyphus hesperus since 2011, adding another efficient tool to the existing biological agents used to target whitefly.
The potential of D. hesperus as a predator of greenhouse whitefly was assessed and proven in the laboratory and commercial greenhouses in British Columbia and a few other provinces by Dave Gillespie along with other collaborating agencies and organizations such as Biobest Canada (1998 and 1999).
D. hesperus is a voracious predatory insect with sucking mouth-parts. The insect is a general feeder but it appears to prefer whiteflies, feeding particularly on the eggs and larval stages. All species of whitefly including the most common ones, glasshouse whitefly and Bemisia, can be consumed.
Although Dicyphus’s preferred prey is whitefly, it will consume many other insect species such as aphids and to a lesser extent two-spotted spider mites, moth eggs, and thrips.
Total of 1-2 Dicyphus per m2 depends on pest pressure.
For management of whiteflies, it is better to use Dicyphus in conjunction with the parasitic wasps, Encarsia formosa, Eretmocerus eremicus, and/or Eretmocerus mundus.
– Dicyphus Dome : 6-7 productive adults (male and female) on mullein plant (Verbascum thapsus) in a 4” degradable pot. The plant will grow along with the crop while Dicyphus is breeding.