Home' Grower : November 2010 Contents plants this time because of the late establish-
ment of the thrips bio-control agent, they
were impressed enough to want to do a sec-
The second trial is under way, and this time
Orius bugs established without a hitch and
are keeping the thrip numbers well down.
In eight weeks the growers have only had
to pull out 18 plants with Tomato Spotted
Wilt Vir us from a crop of nearly 40,000
plants. By this time last year they had
removed about 2000 plants. The bio-con-
trol strategy is working so well that it will be
extended to a soil grown crop that has just
been planted on that farm.
If successful in the soil, there will be new
hope for controlling Western Flower Thrips
on other farms.
The growers are also using bio-control
successfully in their eggplant crop for a sec-
ond successive season.
The first two Orius trials have been con-
ducted in a hydroponic capsicum crop
because the grower contributed funds for
matching by Horticulture Australia (HAL),
and because his house has heating and mist-
ing which we thought would make it easier
for our first serious trial in a commercial
The trial was supported by two commer-
cial IPM experts, James Altmann from
Biological Ser vices at Loxton, and Lachlan
Chilman from Western Australia.
James also put in money for matching by
HAL, and Lachlan bred and supplied the
Tony Burfield and Gabriella Caon from
SARDI helped to put the proposal together
and visited the farm weekly to check the
crop and talk with the growers and keep
James and Lachlan informed. James and
Lachlan made a number of specialist visits to
the greenhouse to ensure the program was
achieving its goals and to help answer any
questions the growers and SARDI staff had.
We do need to finish the trials this year to
be confident about what we recommend to
growers, but are hopeful that those interest-
ed in switching to biological control of
thrips and other pests can get the necessar y
advice in the foreseeable future.
It is expected that growers will need expert
support in the first year or two to learn the
ropes of running a biological control pro-
gram which is quite different to a pesticide-
based strategy. Early next year, depending
on success in the trials and the level of inter-
est in the area, we can look at creating a sup-
port program to assist growers wanting to
go down this path.
We will also provide information about the
costs and time commitments required to
run a biological program in comparison
with a pesticide program.
The greenhouse region in the south of
Spain is a much bigger and more concen-
trated protected cropping area which began
making the switch to bio-control a couple of
years ago when the European Common
Market banned the use of most pesticides on
produce in their markets.
They have demonstrated that a major
change of this nature is achievable.
Details: Tony Burfield -- 0401 120 857 or
James Altmann at Biological Services -- 8584 6977.
Lachlan Chilman can be reached on 0403 727 252.
The South Australian Grower -- November 2010
Pests and diseases
weapon against thrips
By TONY BURFIELD - SARDI
IMAGINE a little insect that loves living
in capsicum flowers and eats Western
Flower Thrips all day long.
Imagine that it can easily catch those
jumpy adult thrips, especially when they
visit a flower, which thrips also love to do.
Well I've seen them at work with my own
eyes in a crop at Virginia, and believe me,
they are quick and hungry and there were
dead thrips all over the place that have had
their guts sucked out by this wonderful bug.
From July to March last year we conduct-
ed our first trial in Virginia with this thrip
predator, a small native insect called Orius.
Not everything went according to plan,
because there were difficulties getting the
Orius bugs established until very late in the
In the end, however, when Orius bugs did
establish and breed, they did an amazing
job of cleaning up a very heavy infestation
Other good bugs were released to control
pests like red spider mite, broad mite and
aphids, so the growers would not have to
spray for them and risk harming the Orius.
Only a few applications of 'soft' insecticide
were needed for aphids and red spider early
in the crop.
It is suspected that one of these pesticides
is the reason Orius did not establish at first.
Although the grower still lost quite a few
TWO: Aphid mummies that have been
parasitized by tiny aphidius wasps
Thrips rear end
ONE: Adult Orius attacking adult Western
THREE: The current crop
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