Huge numbers of insect predators and parasitoids are reared each year by the biological control industry to control agricultural insect pests in greenhouses.
Although more than 200 of these products are available globally, their use for management of pests on field crops is rare. Douglas College in New Westminster, British Columbia has tested the efficacy of predator releases to control the blueberry aphid, Ericaphis fimbriata, a serious pest of highbush blueberries in B.C. A recent research project was undertaken in partnership with the British Columbia Blueberry Council and Applied Bio-nomics Ltd., a producer of biological control agents.
The applied research project tested the effectiveness of two possible insects to act as biological pest control agents for B.C. blueberries. The brown lacewing, Micromus variegatus, is a relatively new product for aphid biological control while the predatory midge, Aphidoletes aphidimyza, is a well-established product that has been used successfully on many crops worldwide. Researchers released both predators at organic blueberry farms and recorded dramatic declines in aphid populations after releases. These predators show enormous potential to provide an effective alternative for aphid management and establish a new market for biological control products in field crops.
Brian Spencer, President of Applied Bio-nomics Ltd. says, “Our industry is perched on the brink of expanding traditional markets from protected crops into field crops. The Douglas College project on blueberry aphid will enable wider adoption of our sustainable pest control products in field agriculture. Because of this thoughtful and careful research, we have recently entrusted Douglas College to help us develop another product, Amblyseius fallacis, that will have similar acceptance and relevance for the field crop community.”