Western flower thrips adult on an open Mandevilla flower. Photo credit: Caitlin MacDonald, USEL student.
Now that the warm weather is finally upon us, it’s time to start worrying about thrips control.
What we’ve learned over the years is that pesticides just don’t cut it – the only reliable chemical for western flower thrips in Ontario is DDVP, which requires constant application. This means biological control is your best bet. Here’s a summary of the most effective tools, tricks, and timing, to ensure your biocontrol dollars are well spent.
Entomopathogenic nematodes – used to control fungus gnats, shoreflies and thrips – are often a “gateway bio” into biocontrol use in greenhouses. This is because not only are they effective and easy to use, but they’re generally compatible with insecticide use. Readily applied with regular spray equipment or through drip lines, nematodes can even be tanked mixed with pesticides to save on labour costs.
In this post, I’ll share some of my research at NC State, looking at which commonly used pesticides in Canadian and U.S. greenhouses are safe to use with nematodes.
Effective biocontrol programs for western flower thrips often usemultiple natural enemies. These includepredatory mites like N. cucumeris or A. swirskii, but also generalist predators like Atheta and Orius, which can feed on mite eggs and nymphs.