by : Nathan Moyse, Assistant Grower , Sun Harvest Greenhouses
SunHarvest Greenhouses would like to acknowledge an important program of ours that generally goes unnoticed. Our Biological Pest Control program uses beneficial insects to target the bad insects in addition to the successful pollination of the tomato and cucumber crop.
Since the late 1940’s, insect pest control has relied heavily on synthetic chemical insecticides. Pesticides and insecticide use can:
- Contaminate soil and water
- Harm aquatic/wild life and non-target organisms
- Interfere with beneficial insects, pollinators
- Insects can also develop a resistance to the insecticide, effectively eliminating those materials as pest management options.
For these reasons many farmers and gardeners are adopting sustainable methods for pest control. The control of pests can be done through the conscious use of natural enemies to control target pests. The key to sustainability involves going back to nature. In the bug world, there are tons of insects that prey on other insects and it’s our job as farmers and gardeners to adopt an Eco-friendly model to beat those nasty critters. Biological control is one of the safest forms of pest management compared to the application of pesticides.
At SunHarvest Greenhouses, we have developed an integrated pest management system to target the pest insects. Beneficial insects are released to target aphids, two-spotted spider mites, whiteflies, thrips etc. Generally two types of innumerable control strategies are used (but there are many more):
The use of Insect Predators:
- Beneficial insects that prey on pest insects such as predatory mites, syrphid flies, assassin bugs and lady beetles.
The use of Parasitic Insects:
- Adult parasitic flies and wasps lay their eggs within the larvae or other important stages of the pest insect’s life cycle.
We can’t forget about our hard-working pollinators!
Bees are essential for one third of the food crops humans consume every day. Some of my friends have asked why we use bumblebees over honey bees. Honey bees are less efficient pollinators and have an overcrowding tendency. The bumblebees take pride in their daily duties by working later in the evening and earlier in the mornings and remain active at lower temperatures. Talk about an employee you want working for you! Without pollinating Bumblebees, our crops would not have the same quality or yields that we see today.
Did you know?
There are quite a few pest insects that lady beetles will eat such as aphids, mealybugs and spider mites. Lady Beetles will also feed on the eggs of the potato beetle.