The Bugs for Bugs Autumn Update is now available!
This update features stories on:
- Bugs for Bugs teaming up with international biocontrol company Biobest;
- how night drone releases are improving biocontrol in cotton;
- how to get the environment right for beneficials in your crop; and
- a new psyllid predator that has arrived in Australia.
You can view and download a copy of our latest newsletter here.
On 20 December 2018 Biobest Group NV and Bugs for Bugs Pty Ltd announced the finalization of an equity transaction whereby Biobest Group NV acquires a stake in Bugs For Bugs Pty Ltd. Bugs for Bugs is a big player in the Australian market for beneficial insects and other biocontrol products. Biobest Group, a global provider of pollination and biological control solutions reaching growers in over 65 countries, now also has a base in Australia. Biobest and Bugs for Bugs expect strong collaboration to foster the expansion and enhancement of Bugs for Bugs’ offering to Australian growers.
“Biobest’s vision is to deliver a complete range of natural solutions to growers in all major geographical markets,” says Jean-Marc Vandoorne, CEO of Biobest Group. “Australia has an important and growing production of high value horticultural crops. Due to its geographic location and unique biodiversity, there are stringent regulations which make it impossible to service this market with imported natural enemy products. We are delighted to be able to join forces with Bugs for Bugs. The company has a strong and experienced management team as well as an excellent reputation with Australian growers. As in all our strategic alliances to date, we trust that the combination of local independence and initiative plus the benefits of integration into a strong international group will again prove to be a winning formula.”
“Bugs for Bugs finds its origin in the beneficial bug business formed by Dan and Anne Papacek in 1981,” explains Marius Collatz, – joint Managing Director of Bugs for Bugs together with Dan Papacek. “Since my entry into the business in 2013, we have further consolidated our position in the Australian market by purchasing the businesses of Biomites and Insect Management Services, previously owned and operated by Paul Jones and David Loxley respectively. Both remain part of our senior management team. This alliance with Biobest is the next important step in the development of our company. We gain access to a world-class technology development program and will be able to exchange expertise with Biobest’s global teams. This will help us bring even more and better solutions to growers in Australia.”
Dan Papacek concludes: “Our teams have a shared vision and strong complementary skills. I look forward to collaborating with Biobest to expand our product portfolio and to enhance our technical advice. I am sure Biobest also stands to benefit outside Australia from what we have learned and developed here. I am pleased with this partnership and very comfortable with the steps we have defined to increase our interaction and further strengthen our ties over time.”
The Bugs for Bugs Autumn Update is now available!
This update features stories about how our biocontrol agents help to keep the gardens at Parliament House pest free and how Leppington Pastoral Company is leading the way in innovative nuisance fly control.
You can view and download a copy of our latest newsletter here.
Take a look at our October Berry Bulletin!
Click here to view and download a copy of the newsletter.
This season many growers and agronomists have been finding higher than normal levels of bronzed fruit and there is concern that this bronzing is the result of thrips activity. However, on the farms that Bugs for Bugs crop scouts visit regularly thrips numbers are much lower than what is normally associated with the levels of bronzing being observed. A proportion of this early season bronzing may be attributed to aphids. However, it is difficult to associate most of this bronzing to either thrips or aphids and we believe that environmental conditions have been the main contributing factor.
A considerable amount of research has been conducted in the United States on the causes of bronzing in strawberries. Researchers conducted an extensive study into bronzing in California, where it was being attributed to thrips. They found that only a small proportion of the damage was due to thrips and the majority was a result of environmental conditions. A separate study conducted in Iowa attributed less than 1% of fruit bronzing to thrips despite thrips levels exceeding recognized EILs.
Three distinct types of bronzing have been identified as affecting strawberry fruit, and they are termed Type I, Type II and Type III bronzing.
Type I bronzing
Type I bronzing is the only form of bronzing that is associated with insect pests, primarily thrips. It is localized to areas of the fruit that have been directly feed upon by the pest. This is usually the area under the calyx and the areas outside the indentations formed in the fruit tissue around the seed.
Type II bronzing
Type II bronzing is attributed to chemical burn and is normally associated with the use of pesticides containing sulphur, or other caustic compounds in unfavorable weather conditions. This damage is also localized in nature and is confined to the area directly contacted by the chemical.
Type III bronzing
Type III bronzing is caused by certain environmental conditions, primarily high temperatures, low humidity and high levels of solar radiation. Unlike other types of bronzing, it affects the whole fruit. It is thought to begin in early fruit development when epidermal cells are damaged, resulting in a loss of integrity in the cuticle and epidermis. As the fruit develops and ripens, the bronzing may become less pronounced but the fruit has a dull appearance, texture can become rubbery, and shelf life is reduced. There appear to be differences in susceptibility amongst verities, with lighter coloured fruit being more susceptible than darker fruit. Thrips are often mistakenly blamed, but researchers have found no link between thrips activity and Type III bronzing. At times, this type of bronzing will result in significant reductions in marketable yield.
Researchers have identified environmental conditions and production practices that will have an influence on incidence levels. In California, lower levels of bronzing occur in coastal regions, where regular sea fogs moderate temperature, humidity and light levels. When misters or micro sprinklers are used during peak periods of the day incidence is reduced again due to moderation of temperature and humidity. Pesticides (fungicides or insecticides) applied shortly before periods of high risk also reduce incidence. This is thought to be a result of the sulphinated lignins contained in many pesticides, which are known to provide protection against solar radiation.
Researchers see this type of bronzing as primarily a problem from spring to mid-summer in California and attribute this to a lack of canopy development at this stage of the season. Later in the season a more developed canopy will provide greater moderation of the micro-climate. Increased incidence has also been noted with later plantings, and this has been attributed to reduced canopy development.
Given the generally mild conditions that South East Queensland has experienced so far this season, it is reasonable to question why Type III bronzing would be such an issue. However, during the 2000-2001 strawberry season in the Central Coast region of California there was a significant outbreak of bronzing while researchers were investigating its causes. During this period temperatures at harvest were generally between 15-25 °C with only two days over 30 °C, and peak day solar radiation levels that are comparable to those experienced in South East Queensland this season. It is possible that the combination of a relatively warm and dry autumn, late planting and generally slow plant development early in the season has contributed to an increased incidence of Type III bronzing in South East Queensland this season.
According to crop scouts, levels of bronzing observed in the field have declined over the last week, and we hope that this decline will continue.
Check out our April Berry Bulletin for berry production news and updates from growing regions around the country.
The latest Bugs for Bugs update introduces our newest biological control agent, the Spotted Ladybird for aphid control. The newsletter is packed with information about our predatory mites, including tips for optimising predatory mite establishment and performance, and also features IPM grower stories from the Costa Group (berries) and Fresh@Heart (glasshouse cucumbers).
Pink wax scale (Ceroplastes rubens)
At this time of year we commonly get enquiries about pink wax scale. This pest occurs on a variety of plants including fruit trees such as citrus, mango, avocado, custard apple as well as some garden plants including lillypilly and umbrella tree.
In Queensland there are usually two generations per year. Typically one of these occurs in late spring and the second in early autumn. Like other scale insects, pink wax scale settles early in its life and never moves again. The young stages (crawlers) emerge from under the body of the adult female to settle nearby. They may also be carried easily on wind currents. Very quickly they start to produce their characteristic protective waxy covering.
Wax scales generally do best in humid coastal districts where temperatures are more moderate. They can produce large quantities of honeydew causing a black sooty mould which can downgrade fruit and, if severe will even limit photosynthesis.
Biological control of pink wax scale
A range of predators and parasites will attack pink wax scale. Of the predatory insects both lacewings and cryptolaemus ladybird beetles will feed on this pest. The best agent however is a small wasp parasite called Anicetus beneficus. Anicetus wasps deposit their eggs into the scale insect and the larval stage consumes it from within. Unfortunately however the wasp is not commercially available.
Oil sprays to control pink wax scale
An oil spray can help reduce numbers of pink wax scale but only if timed correctly and applied thoroughly. This should be applied when crawlers are emerging and first stage nymphs are settling on the leaves of the host plant. This is the only time the insects are sufficiently vulnerable for the spray to be effective.
In the home
In the farm or orchard
Again ants will only expend energy climbing onto trees, vines or other plants if there is some reward. To some extent this can be a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. Are the ants there because of the mealybugs or vice versa?
A variety of ant baits are available. The simplest of these is an old but well tested bait which incorporates borax as the toxicant. Small quantities of this relatively innocuous compound are taken back to the nest by an army of ant workers. It takes some time but eventually this action can reduce in size or kill out the colony. The important thing about an ant bait is that it should not be so toxic as to kill individual ants quickly before they have had a chance to return to the nest to transfer the toxicant to the colony at large.
A simple recipe for an ant bait is 3 cups of water + 1 cup of sugar with 4 teaspoons of borax. Some ant species prefer more or less sugar or may respond to protein (crushed dry dog food formula can work here).
Some commercial ant baits are available and these can be more or less effective. It is important to understand the habit of the ant species that is causing your problems before choosing your ant management strategy.
Because ants do not have wings (other than when swarming) we can exclude them if plants or other valued items are kept on elevated benches. The use of sticky barriers can be an effective tool. In this case it is important that there are not alternative access points that the ants can use. There are several sticky compounds available for this purpose. It may be necessary to re-work the material or apply a fresh band from time to time as dust and leaves can reduce the effectiveness of the barrier allowing ants across.
Our November Berry Bulletin takes you ‘around the traps’ with a rundown of current production issues from the southern growing regions through to the Queensland high country. It is packed with practical information and insights from our experienced strawberry field consultants. This bulletin also includes a feature on how to get the most out of your predatory mites. Take a look at the newsletter here.
ABC Rural caught up with Dan Papacek to capture his story of pioneering IPM in Australia. Click here to view the article.
Bugs for Bugs founder and director Dan Papacek has been named winner of the Peter Kenny medal. The award celebrates outstanding contributions to the future of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Dan received the award in recognition of his role in pioneering integrated pest management in Australia and for supporting growers to achieve best practice pest management wth minimal pesticides.
The award was presented by Agriculture minister Bill Byrne and Hilary Kenny, the wife of the late Peter Kenny, at the AgFutures conference in Brisbane last week. Read more in the Queensland Country Life write up.
The latest Bugs for Bugs newsletter introduces our expanding range of pheromone products for use in monitoring, mass trapping and mating disruption programs. It also features biological control success stories from strawberries and apples, and notes on preparing for the seasonal increase in fruit fly activity. Click here to view the newsletter.
Mulgowie Farming Comapany is the largest producer of fresh sweet corn and beans in Australia. Their production manager, Andrew Johansen, offered the following feedback about the role of our Trichogramma parasitoid wasps in their successful IPM program.
“Mulgowie Farming Company has been using Trichogramma wasps for around five years now, and it has become the cornerstone to our IPM strategy in sweetcorn. By releasing Trichogramma wasps and using only “soft” or biological spray applications we have been able to reduce our grub damage while at the same time reducing our spray applications and totally avoiding the use of heavy chemicals. This is a win-win situation by reducing spraying costs and producing an environmentally friendly product that is healthier for people and the environment.”
– Andrew Johanson, Production Manager
A recent paper by Kaur and Virk published in Phytoparasitica explores the feeding potential of Cryptolaemus montrouzieri against Solenopsis mealybug (Phenacoccus solenopsis). Their results suggest that the native Australian ladybird beetle C. montrouzieri, which is the species produced by Bugs for Bugs for the Australian market, has the potential to be exploited as a biocontrol agent in North India.
Click here to view the paper.