Biological Control Agents

Moth Eggs (sterile) for Orius Nutrition on Pepper Banker Plants

Orius insidious (minute pirate bug) is a beneficial generalist predator that feeds upon adult and larval thrips.  Orius are expensive to purchase, so some growers use ornamental pepper banker plants to provide a pollen food source to help them get established in the greenhouse. Growers rear the minute pirate bugs on pollen producing pepper plants and place plants throughout the greenhouse to distribute them.  As long as the pepper plants are in flower and producing pollen, the minute pirate bugs will reproduce on them.

Aphids - Potato and Aphid Mummies on Calibrachoa

Potato aphids are common on ornamental plants. The potato aphid is pink or green (in this photo), with a darker stripe down its back (seen in related photo). Antennae are longer than their bodies, with long, black tipped cylindrical cornicles. This photo shows potato nymphs, shed skins and parasitized aphids. As aphids increase in size they shed their exoskeletons (cast skins) which are white and light weight. These white cast skins are often mistaken for whiteflies. The parasitized aphids (aphid mummies) appear as small brown swollen aphids.

Hover Fly - Adults on Veronica 'Royal Candles'

Hover flies (also called syrphid or flower flies) are beneficial, predatory insects. Adults are small (3/8 to 3/4 inch long) and resemble small bees or wasps with short antennae and large eyes. Unlike bees or wasps they only have two wings. These pollen feeders are often seen near perennials such as veronica and sedum in flower. Adults lay eggs that resemble a small grain of rice. The eggs hatch into small legless larvae that feed upon aphids as well as thrips and small caterpillars. Larvae extract the fluids from the aphids and leave the exoskeleton behind.

Hover Fly - Eggs

Hover flies (also called syrphid or flower flies) are beneficial, predatory insects. Adults are small (3/8 to 3/4 inch long) and resemble small bees or wasps with short antennae and large eyes. Unlike bees or wasps they only have two wings. These pollen feeders are often seen near perennials in flower. Adults lay eggs that resemble a small grain of rice (in photo). The eggs hatch into small legless larvae that feed upon aphids as well as thrips and small caterpillars. Larvae extract the fluids from the aphids and leave the exoskeleton behind.

Mealybug Destroyer

Mealybug destroyer (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) is a beetle in the family of ladybirds. All moving stages feed on mealy bugs. The eggs are laid in mealy bug colonies that hatch into larvae. The larvae resemble mealybugs, covered with waxy appendages, however they are much more mobile and as they develop become longer. A young larval stage is circled in this photo. Mealy bug destroyers have usually four larval stages, a pupal stage and adult beetle. They pupate in convenient places (undersides of leaves etc). The adult beetle is dark brown with reddish brown head and thorax.

Guardian Plants

Guardian plants combine multiple interactions between plants, pests and their natural enemies.  They attract the pest and beneficials and are used to monitor for pests and assess natural enemy effectiveness. They provide a sustained food source which ensures the survival of natural enemies. For example in this photo, Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) is being used as a guardian plant for this lettuce crop to manage aphids.  Alyssum enhances the activity of syrphid flies to suppress aphids in lettuce.

Guardian Plants

Guardian plants combine multiple interactions between plants, pests and their natural enemies.  They attract the pest and beneficials and are used to monitor for pests and assess natural enemy effectiveness. They provide a sustained food source which ensures the survival of natural enemies. For example, marigolds are highly attractive to thrips and can serve as an indicator plant drawing them out of the crop. When predatory mites are released unto their foliage, the marigolds serve as a trap plant where thrips are attracted and killed.

Feltiella pupa

Feltiella acarisuga is a gall midge for two-spotted spider mites, similar to the aphid predator Aphidoletes. The adult midge lays yellow-coloured eggs near spider mites. After about two days, a brownish yellow color larva hatches, which feeds on the mites.

After about a week, the larva turns into a pupa covered with white fuzz, usually near the midrib of the leaf. The total life cycle varies with temperature, but generally takes about 2 to 4 weeks.

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