Supporting Minute Pirate Bugs and Other Biological Controls for Pests

Mar 14, 2022 | Pest Management

Keeping up with consumer trends

Several factors are pushing medium and large-scale farmers, home gardeners, and hobbyists toward organic food production. The public’s aversion to produce grown with non-organic pesticides is increasing as awareness of health risks linked to pesticides grows. In some groups an aversion to produce with any chemical residue, organic or non-organic, is increasing as well, leading to producers seeking not only organic production methods but beyond organic, no-touch solutions. This growing public opinion has led to increasing rates of agricultural chemical bans, further pushing farmers and gardeners to no-touch solutions.

One no-touch organic solution many farmers are beginning to apply is biological control insects to predate pests. This biological control method involves regular scouting of crops by experienced workers who can identify signs of insect infestations early, identify the insect species, and tag the location of the infestation. An appropriate biological control insect that will predate and consume the pest is then chosen, procured, and released on the tagged infestation sites.

One common type of pest farmers and home gardeners alike are all too familiar with are thrips.

These small slender pests may be brown, black, or tan and can be identified by the telltale signs of stippling and black dots on leaves, and direct insect sightings. These common pests can wreak havoc on crops and easily damage or destroy a harvest if not properly treated. This leads us to the obvious question; can we treat this common infestation with a no-touch beyond organic solution like biological controls?

Minute Pirate Bug Biological Controls

Minute Pirate Bugs are one such voracious predatory insect we can deploy as a biological control for thrips among many other pests including mites and white flies. These small dark-bodied beneficial insects can be released on infestation sites and will rapidly explore the crops, consuming pest insects and even hunting and killing pests without consuming them. If conditions including temperature, humidity, and food are right, and egg-laying locations are available your released population of Minute Pirate Bugs may establish itself and begin reproducing and stabilizing. This new population’s subsequent generations will complete their life cycle in 4-5 weeks, and when applied at the proper rate will prevent and fight pest infestations.

It is important to note that when switching from traditional chemical pesticides to biological controls, like minute pirate bugs, all traditional pesticide applications must of course be halted. If systemic pesticides have been applied to your crop or garden before utilizing biological controls the biological control species may be unable to establish a stable population and may be ineffective. Luckily, due to their relatively hard chitinous exoskeletons, minute pirate bugs are largely protected from the pesticidal light treatment effect of the IntraLight pesticidal lighting system. This allows for two no-touch beyond organic pest management systems to be used in concert, minute pirate bugs, alongside IntraLight pesticidal lighting systems, to achieve guaranteed results without any residue or contamination.

The Best Approach to Beyond Organic Pest Management

Yet with this level of complexity of the application and support systems required for biological controls, all without the guarantee of control, are biological control insects really the best solution for farmers seeking to move to organic or beyond organic production? Traditional pesticidal solutions, both organic and non-organic, will require chemical and labor expenses. Traditional non-organic pesticidal solutions may also endanger the farmers, farmworkers, consumers of contaminated produce, and the local environment through runoff and food chain propagation and will dramatically reduce the value of produce which cannot be certified organic. These two pest management solutions, therefore, are becoming increasingly non-viable.

Biological controls, while they can be an effective solution, are high cost and high maintenance and while effective to a degree, subtle changes in temperature and humidity or other environmental factors can cause their populations to collapse, requiring repurchasing. Biological controls also fail to treat pathogen infections, and therefore must be used alongside other treatment systems. IPM systems much like biological controls can be highly effective, however also fail to address pathogen infections, and when best practices falter infestations and infections cannot be actively addressed by IPM, only prevented.

For these reasons, we recommended utilizing alternative solutions for switching to beyond organic, no-touch pest management: The IntraLight pesticidal light treatment system. With this system you can treat a broad range of pests and pathogens with a one-time upfront purchase that will automatically treat nearby pests and pathogens, removing the requirement of consistent chemical and labor expenses, or consistent biological control expenses and care. The IntraLight beyond organic solution may be utilized alongside any other agricultural pest management solutions including, traditional pesticides, organic pesticides, biological controls, and general integrated pest management systems.

When beyond organic, no-touch organic production is the goal in order to achieve the highest possible value for your produce at the lowest input cost, we recommend the IntraLight pesticidal light treatment system, combined with IPM best practices. IPM best practices that should be followed include effective proper sanitation, sealing of the grow environment when possible, and quarantining of new plants sourced from other farms. Additionally, all workers must be aware that they are the most likely source for pests to invade the growing environment. Spores, mites, thrips, etc. will hitch a ride on farmworkers’ clothes, their shoes, and may be transferred to them especially easily from pets. It is recommended to sterilize shoe soles before entering the growing environment or to use shoe coverings. Clothes should be clean and specifically used for work within the grow environment, coveralls can also be used.

Ultimately the most cost-effective solution to protect your crops, increase their value, and increase their marketability, is to utilize IPM best practices alongside the IntraLight pesticidal light treatment system. Doing so will remove chemical and labor expenses, and allow marketing of produce as no-touch, beyond organic produce, commanding a drastically higher price and ensuring easy marketability. Pre-order now to eliminate chemical and labor expenses, increase the value of your produce and stay ahead of the competition.

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