Sticky traps fine-tuned to meet challenge of pesticide resistance

Western flower thrips and whitefly "are worldwide pests that have developed resistance to most pesticides", necessitating the development of more effective alternative controls, Keele University pest and disease expert Dr Clare Sampson told the GrowQuip industry event on 26 October.

Optiroll Blue - image: Russell IPM
Optiroll Blue - image: Russell IPM

Sampson, who was last month also appointed horticultural development manager at specialist pest control supplier Russell IPM, has led trials of a range of sticky whitefly traps for the strawberry industry, comparing the effectiveness of different colours, patterns and scents.

Russell IPM’s Yellow Optiroll was found to reduce whitefly numbers on leaves by 84 per cent in February and 67 per cent in April in a commercial crop.

"They have been yellow since 1914," she explained. "A dull orange-yellow catches fewer beneficial insects, and some patterns increase the catch."

Thrips by contrast are attracted to "a specific blue", but reflectance also matters, as "they prefer it shinier than whitefly", she said. "Adding a pheromone, which Syngenta supplied, doubles the catch," while a similar boost came from patterned rolls. "We regularly got a reduction in thrips numbers in plants, and reduced crop damage meant a greater share of class one fruit."

Combined with regular releases of the larvae-devouring mite Neoseiulus cucumeris, "this gives you complete control", she said.

Russell IPM "is developing a biodegradable film but you don’t want that to happen too soon", she added, but admitted: "They are an absolute pain to put up – there’s no way round it."

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