HDC publishes guidelines to help cut cost of pest control

Rearing predators on the nursery will help cut the costs of pest control, according to a new fact sheet from the Horticultural Development Company.

It provides guidelines for breeding Atheta coriaria, a vital tool in the fight against sciarid and shore flies and potentially for western flower thrips (WFT).

Fact sheet author and ADAS consultant Jude Bennison said: "Growers could save money by using the DIY rearing system for Atheta. Use of the rearing-release system for control of sciarid and shore flies and WFT needs validating on commercial nurseries, so I would welcome any feedback from growers who try the method."

With increasing pesticide resistance and legislative moves towards biological control, the system comes at a vital time for growers worried about pest and disease management.

The fact sheet advises growers to use Atheta because there are no other biological or chemical control options for sciarid and shore flies. The ground-dwelling predators are also useful in combating WFT in its pupa and larval forms.

Bennison added: "Due to problems with WFT resistance to pesticides, control strategies for the pest should be based on biological control methods. Depending on the crop grown, the main biological control agent used against WFT is usually the predatory mite Amblyseius cucumeris, which eats young thrips larvae on the plants.

"When the thrips larvae are fully fed they drop to the ground to pupate and at this stage they are vulnerable to predation by ground-dwelling biological control agents including Atheta."

- For further information, visit www.hdc.org.uk.

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