Biological materials play an important part in integrated pest management, particularly in organic systems. Vegetable crops have a variety of arthropod pests that impact production, including different types of thrips, mites, aphids, and worms. UC Cooperative Extension Entomology and Biologicals Advisor Dr. Surendra Dara said there are multiple materials available to address arthropod pressures.
“If we are talking about biological pesticides, we have those that are based on bacteria, those that are based on fungi, nematodes, viruses, and botanical sources. Then there are also some toxin-based ones and others,” said Dara. “The choice depends on the kind of crop we are looking at and the type of arthropod we need to control.”
While biological materials are an important piece of a grower’s toolkit, Dara suggests being mindful of not overusing them. Other practices such as cultural, behavioral, and mechanical control approaches should be deployed as part of an integrated pest management system. However, when cultural practices are not providing adequate management, there are several biological materials that can be effective in combatting arthropods.
“Bacillus thuringiensis is very effective against several lepidopteran pests. Then we have fungi that infect and kill arthropods based on the contact. So, they can be effective against sucking pests, but they are also effective against pests that have chewing mouthparts like Lepidoptera, or Coleoptera, and so on. Then we have entomopathogenic nematodes that are very effective against soil-dwelling life stages,” Dara explained. “Depending on the product and its mode of action we can use one or more for any of these pests.”
Listen to the full episode with Surendra Dara below.
‘Making Sense of Biologicals’ is a series from AgNet West that dives into various topics with unbiased experts in the field of biologics to help the industry better understand the product category.
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