Unlike chemical insecticides, biological control products often contain a living organism. These living organisms are typically reared on artificial diets in controlled environments to sustain a high quality consistent product. However, rearing living organisms is a lot more finicky than mixing chemicals to make a chemical insecticide. The size of the organism, the female to male ratio, their lifespan, and rate of release can all affect the efficacy of the biological control. Although the biocontrol companies do some quality control work on their end, the product may decrease in quality through shipment. That’s why it is encouraged that growers do a quality control check on their biological controls to ensure that they’ve received a quality product.
Delivered to the attendees of the 2014 Texas Fruit Conference at College Station, this presentation discussed some of the emerging fruit pests in Texas that growers should be aware of and recognize their damage.
There is an increasing trend towards organic and natural products – from food, cosmetics, and even down to the choice in pesticides. It’s not uncommon for people to lean towards or prefer a pesticide that is ‘natural’. After all, an unnatural pesticide will be more harmful, right? However, there’s a discrepancy between perceived safety of ‘natural’ and the reality. For starters, there seems to be no regulation on the word “natural”. As the FDA puts it,
Efficacy of a horticultural oil + insect growth regulator mix (SuffOil-X + Molt-X) and two imidacloprid formulations (Bayer Tree and Shrub; Fertilome Tree & Shrub Systemic Insect Drench) were tested for control of bark scale (Eriococcus lagerostroemia) on crapemyrtles at LeTourneau University. There was a trend towards decreasing alive scales and decreasing alive:dead scale ratio with time, especially by the fifth week in all treatments (including the control). The systemic insecticides (imidacloprid) demonstrated a decrease in alive:dead scale ratio two weeks after treatment, whereas contact treatments showed a decrease one week after treatment (horticultural oil + insect growth regulator). Since the control also showed decrease in scale populations, in some cases before other treatments, the efficacy of the insecticides studied here are inconclusive.
Originally created for the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association 2014 Expo, this presentation outlines five common pests found in greenhouse ornamentals and turf crops, how to monitor them and management strategies, as well as informing growers about new invasive insects they should keep their eyes open for.
Drosophila suzukii, Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), is an invasive pest that attacks several soft-bodied fruit, such as cherries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and grapes. Similar in size to the common fruit fly, except the females have a serrated ovipositor (organ used for depositing eggs), allowing them to lay eggs in fruit just before harvest. As a result, the fruit can be unfit for fresh markets by the time they are harvested, resulting in crop loss. If you would like to send samples to confirm SWD identification, please use the spotted wing drosophila submission form.
Traps should be set in the crop canopy.
Male spotted wing drosophila can be distinguished by he spots on the tips of the first wing vein.
Two males with spots on their wings.
Female spotted wing drosophila can be distinguished by their serrated ovipositor under a microscope.
A trained eye can recognize spotted wing drosophila without any visual aid.
Yellow sticky traps can also catch spotted wing drosophila, although they tend to be less effective than apple cider vinegar traps.
On June 24th and 25th (2014), a number of Texas A&M AgriLife personnel set out to McKinney to collect data on susceptibility of different varieties of crape myrtles to the new invasive pest, crape myrtle bark scale (CMBS). McKinney is home to over 114 varieties of crape myrtles from all over the world, making it a great site to investigate the preference of CMBS for certain cultivars and varieties. Follow the gallery below to see how the research was carried out.
McKinney – home to the crape myrtle world collection park. Naturally a great place to look for crape myrtle bark scale infestations.
McKinney crape myrtle bark scale infestation assessment team (2014). From left to right, Dr. Mike Merchant, Neil Sperry, (front) Dr. Mengmeng Gu, (back) Erfan Vafaie, Laura Miller, Janet Laminack.
McKinney crape myrtle bark scale infestation assessment team (2014). From left to right, Dr. Mike Merchant, Susan Owens, (front) Dr. Mengmeng Gu, (back) Erfan Vafaie, Laura Miller, Janet Laminack.
Dr. Gu, Extension Horticulturalist from College Station, can barely stand the site of infested crape myrtles.
First step, assess overall infestation.
Using a scale from 1 (low) to 9 (high), researchers determined the level of scale infestation by visual observation.
In addition to level of infestation, level of sooty mold coverage is also assessed.
Water sensitive cards can be used to estimate the level of infestation. The excreted honeydew from the scales hits the card and turns it blue. This is an example of a highly infested tree.
Ms. Laminack measures the circumference of the trunks.
Dr. Gu recording the data.
A few branches were cut from each tree to assess infestation levels under a microscope.
Every branch has to go into a labelled bag!
Crape myrtle bark scale on the main trunk
Sooty mold on some cultivars gave them an appealing pattern.
High level of crape myrtle bark scale on upper branches. Two lady beetle larva are amidst the scales, presumably having a casual afternoon buffet.
Very high level of crape myrtle bark scale infestation.
Although many trees were infested, the blooms were still gorgeous.
The excreted honeydew can serve as a meal for wasps.
Classic thrips damage at the tips of the flowers.
Acrobat ant (Crematogaster spp.) swarm! The ‘swarmers’ are winged.
Queen acrobat ant takes a break. It’s been a long day for her.
Praying mantis eggs case? If it is, great! Praying mantids are predators of many unwanted pests.
Adult lacewing, a predatory insect that eats a lot of pests.
Wheel bug, a type of assassin bug (predatory) that apparently has a nasty bite. It’s pretty, but no touchy!
Crape myrtle trails span across the road medians in McKinney.
Looks a lot like the twice-stabbed lady beetle, Chilocorus stigma, a beneficial predatory insect!
We found a lot of these beneficials. They look like mealybugs, but they are actually a type of ladybeetle larva (possibly Scymnus or Hyperaspis lateralis) that feeds on scales. Some of the other species we saw included Chilocorus cacti and C. stigma.
There are thousands of species of aphids and any grower that tells you they don’t have them must not get out much. Aphids reproduce at an alarming rate, with newborn aphids already developing embryos the moment they are born. Apparently they are in a rush! This is a 30-minute slideshow on aphids and their control.
A short presentation on Spotted Wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, which is a new pest to North America (2008). It is a new pest to many soft-bodied fruit, such as cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. If you think you may have Spotted Wing Drosophila in your crop, be sure to contact me and send a sample if possible.