Biological Control in Greenhouses

DR_GROSS gross at
Wed Mar 4 15:59:01 EST 1998

     I DO have experience with biological control in our teaching/research 
     greenhouse that houses about 250 species.  We've been using biological 
     control agents since 1994 to control spider mites, scale, thrips and 
     mealybugs as part of an Integrated Pest Management Program that 
     includes the use of insecticidal soap.  I'm happy to say I have all of 
     the above under control, although they aren't extinct due to 
     re-infestation through windows on our rooftop greenhouse.  What works 
     best will depend on the plant species you have and your greenhouse 
     climate conditions.  If I were you I'd try contacting an entomologist 
     at one of the biological control supply houses.  While I'm not 
     endorsing one vendor over another, we order our predatory mites (a 
     mixture of Phytoseiulus persimilis and Neoseiulus californicus to 
     control spider mites, and Neoseiulus cucumeris to control thrips) 
     three times a year (April, July and October) from IPM Laboratories, 
     Inc., PO Box 300, Locke NY  13092-0300 (phone 315-497-2063) and have 
     been very satisfied with their service.  It may take a while to get 
     and maintain control because of a number of factors, not the least of 
     which (this time of year) is the lack of reproduction that occurs when 
     hours of daylight and temperatures are low.  I think that a number of 
     vendors sell mixes of predators to help ensure that at least one 
     species will find your culture conditions suitable.  We re-order 
     beneficials on a regular basis to ensure that lack of predator 
     reproduction doesn't become a problem.  I'll be giving a paper or 
     poster on this in probably the ESA education section of the combined 
     BSA/ESA/etc. meeting in Baltimore.
     Mike Gross
     Assoc Prof Biology
     Chairperson, Biology Dept
     Georgian Court College
     Lakewood, NJ  08701-2697
     gross at

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Subject: Re: Biological Control in Greenhouses
Author:  gd3 at at ~internet
Date:    3/4/98 3:27 PM

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Bill Williams wrote:
> I'd like to get in touch with people who have personal experience with = 
> biological control in teaching/research greenhouses.  We have been =
> experiencing serious spider-mite problems that threaten several students' = 
> research projects, and after many applications of "bombs," which require = 
> evacuation of the greenhouse for 24 h and very likely have at least some = 
> effects on plant growth, we still appear to have a mite problem.  I know = 
> that many greenhouses use biological control (mostly ladybugs), but I =
> don't know how effective people have found this to be and what the best =
> control agents are for spider mites.  There appear to be some helpful web = 
> sites and I'm sure there's literature, but I'd much prefer to talk with =
> people who have actually tried biological control of spider mites. 
> Thanks,
> Bill Williams
> St. Mary's College of Maryland
Hi Bill,
Good to hear from you on the plant-ed listserver.
I do not have any personal experience using any of these agents, but I 
found some informantion that should prove useful.  The best source is 
the Geiger Co. catalog of Horticultural Supplies, which you can order by 
phone at 1-800-443-4437 or by Fax at 1-800-432-9434 (I have also 
attached the URL for their webpage). The catalog costs $10, but all of 
the information is available on their website under IPM.  
They recommend Amblyseius (Neosieulus) fallacis as a very good 
all-around predatory mite (except in very hot and dry conditios).  These 
are predatory mites that control several pest mite species.  I would 
probably recommend this one as well, since you can get a pyrethrin 
resistant strain of A. fallacis on bean leaves.  This may be important 
in a greenhouse where you may need to spray (or someone else may spray) 
another pesticide (especially a fungicide) that will kill the predatory 
mites as well.  This is especially true for the use of Benomyl (Benlate) 
as a fungicide to which A. fallacis is moderately sensitive (Cornell 
Cooperative Extension Bullitin).  
They also recommend Galendromis (Typhlodromis) occidentalis for use in 
hot summertime greenhouses.  The problem is that these are much more 
expensive ($100 vs. $48) although you get about an order of magnitude 
more of these bugs (5,000) on corn grits than the number that you get 
(500) on the bean leaves.  However you can get twice the number (10,000) 
of non-resistant A. fallacis on vermiculite for $50.  The cheapest and 
best known spider mite biocontrol predator is Phytoseiulus persimilis 
which you can get for as little as $15.
As I said, I am no expert in this field and have absolutly no 
experience, but I hope this helps.
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