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by Frankie Geouge, Conservatory volunteer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Lewis Ginter chooses to use natural pest and disease controls whenever possible. In the ideal environment of the Conservatory, imported insect pests can multiply pretty quickly.  As the frontline attack against insect invasions, we employ vigilant housekeeping and hand removal.  When these efforts fail, we turn to biological remedies.  Predatory insects can be the most effective weapons against harmful intruders. Mother nature, in her practical way, has provided us with predatory insects specific to each invader.  The contained environments of the home or greenhouse would be ideal areas in which to use these warriors.

Here is a partial list of the predators we employ. If the problem is the pesky whitefly, the Conservatory routinely uses these two predators:

 

Eretmocerus eremicus

Eretmocerus eremicus

Encarsia formosa

Encarsia formosa

The ubiquitous and tenacious aphid is food for these three predators:

aphidius colemani

aphidius colemani

Chrysoperla carnea, C. Rufilabris Common green lacewing (larvae shown)

Chrysoperla carnea, C. Rufilabris Common green lacewing (larvae shown)

Hippodamia convergen, Convergent Lady Beetle

Hippodamia convergen, Convergent Lady Beetle aka lady bug

 

Tiny and elusive fungus gnats are prey for this warrior:

atheta coriaria: rove beetle

atheta coriaria: rove beetle Sticky, reclusive mealybugs are tasty to this defender:cryptolaemus montrozieri

 

Tiny, annoying thrips can be controlled with these two:

Orius tristicolor

Orius tristicolor

Neoseiulus (Amblyseius) fallacis

Neoseiulus (Amblyseius) fallacis

These are just a few of the predatory insects that are currently being used by horticulturists in public garden areas.  If you choose to use predatory insects in your garden, be sure to familiarize yourself with their appearance and habits.  They may be difficult to see once released, and some may go through stages that mimic detrimental insects.  Pesticides wipe out both useful and harmful species, so don’t destroy your valuable investment with chemicals.

Thanks to Cornell University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for photographs.

Photos links:

http://www.biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/parasitoids/eretmocerus.html

http://www.biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/parasitoids/encarsia.html

http://www.negreenhouseupdate.info/index.php/component/content/article/849-parasitic-wasps-aphidius-colemani

http://www.biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/predators/Chrysoperla.html

http://www.biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/predators/Hippodamia.html

http://www.umass.edu/umext/floriculture/fact_sheets/pest_management/fungnat.html

http://www.biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/predators/Cryptolaemus.html

http://www.biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/predators/Orius.html

http://www.biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/predators/Neoseiulus.html

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