Lifecycle Management of Fall Production Pests Using Biological Pesticides

By Manuel Campos, Ph.D., Entomologist, BioSafe Systems 

Seasons come and seasons go, but it always seems like the pests are here to stay. Developing a successful and sustainable year-round IPM program should be paramount for any grower whether it be in the greenhouse or in the nursery fields. Keeping in mind the entire lifecycle of the trouble insects can be more difficult in practice than it is in concept. Many growers deal with their pest problems in the now, however taking a preventative approach during the early stages of an insect’s growth will prove to be even more effective over time. Using biological products is one way to ensure greater control of pests while maintaining a sustainable and non-resistant program.

Fall production of ornamental crops such as pansies and poinsettias can be a breeding ground for whiteflies, fungus gnats, and thrips. Importing plugs from external sources presents its own risks as well when growers end up importing more than they bargained for. Bringing in large amounts of product along with large amounts of pests can have a detrimental effect on production and profits if left unchecked. Using biological pesticides that affect the different stages of an insect’s lifecycle are extremely effective, non-residual, and are soft on the plants themselves during any stage of production. Biological products can still be used with broad spectrum bactericides/fungicides but it’s all about the timing. Chemistries such as ZeroTol 2.0 can be applied throughout the growing on and finishing stages to prevent or treat common foliar diseases such as Botrytis or powdery mildew and since it simply breaks down into air and water a biological product can be used as soon as the chemical dries.

BioSafe Systems, a leader in sustainable chemistries, has developed a proprietary OMRI listed strain of Beauveria bassiana fungus used in their BioCeres WP® product, which is approved for organic production and is perfectly suited for IPM programs, in a tank mix with other pesticides or surfactants as well as specific, stand-alone use. This sustainable insecticide consists of a wettable powder formulation that is easily blended with water to form a suspension and can be applied as a direct foliar spray or fogging. BioCeres WP is enhanced with UV inhibitors and other proprietary stabilizers to form an extremely stable and predictable biological product that can be used regularly with no mutational resistance.

BioCeres WP is used for the biological control of numerous pests at all stages of their lifecycles including whiteflies, aphids, thrips, and spotted wing drosophila by adhering to the insect’s cuticle, germinating and piercing its outer shell, ultimately causing death. It can be used in a wide range of agricultural, nursery, and greenhouse crops including ornamental plants and edibles.

When an insect comes into direct contact or consumes the Beauveria bassiana, the conidia’s germination tubes begin to grow directly into the body of the insect by penetrating its outer shell (cuticle). These hyphae will not only pierce the insect causing physical changes but will release toxins as well, slowing their movement and reducing the damage that the insect can inflict on plants. This infection from BioCeres WP results in a white mold growth, called White Muscardine Disease, which leads to the eventual death of the insect. The Muscardine Disease will continue to produce spores, spreading to other insects and repeating the process without harming plants.

BioCeres WP is part of a larger BioSafe system of products and is made stronger by working together with other biological products such as AzaGuard, which acts as an insect growth regulator, stopping the molting process between the larval and pupal stages. Combining this effect with BioCeres WP, which targets all lifecycle stages, especially adults, effectively controls various insects that can harm crops of all kinds. Products like these are extremely effective as part of an integrated IPM program and aid growers in being proactive against pests rather than reactive. Ultimately saving time, money, and giving peace of mind to growers as they deal with stubborn pests anywhere in their production.

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