MBCN Wins Award

"Know Your Friends," the monthly feature in Midwest Biological Control News that focuses on a particular beneficial insect, was the recipient of a 1996 Entomology Education Project Award by the Board Certified Entomologists of Mid-America.

The efforts of those contributing to the newsletter were recognized in a ceremony at the North Central Branch Meeting of the Entomological Society of America. Project Director Dan Mahr and Subject Editors Bob Wright, Cliff Sadof and Doug Landis were present at the NCB-ESA awards presentation to accept certificates of recognition from Daryl Sanders, President of BCE Mid-America. (Your Editor-In-Chief was also recognized, but remained back in Madison putting together the newsletter.)

Development of an Extension Program: Biological Control in Michigan Greenhouses

Historically, greenhouse operators controlled pests as they occurred in their growing structures. Growers knew that some plant species were much more susceptible to insect infestations than others. Therefore, preventative insecticide sprays were applied on a regular basis to keep insect infestations at a minimum.

In the late 1980's Gale Arent, who was then Michigan State University Extension Director of Kalamazoo County, envisioned the development of an IPM program for the bedding plant industry in Kalamazoo County. Through several grants, Arent was able to secure funding to implement a scouting program.

Mark Crossley was hired as the first coordinator. Growers were charged a fee to have their crops scouted for insects. Crossley placed yellow sticky cards strategically in the greenhouses and checked them on a weekly basis. He reported to growers insect counts and indicated whether or not sprays were necessary.

After a couple of years on the job, Crossley became increasingly interested in the use of beneficial insects as a control mechanism. Government regulations such as the Worker Protection Standard were beginning to restrict access to the greenhouse after pesticide sprays. Use of beneficials as an alternative to insecticides would help solve some of the constraints. Some of Crossley's initial work centered around the use of Hypoaspis miles for control of fungus gnats, and Aphidius colemani and Aphidoletes aphidimyza for control of aphids. Four growers from the Comstock area of Michigan responded to Crossley's interest in beneficials and worked them into their control strategies for 1994. Although success was limited, most growers were pleased with H. miles and A. colemani.

Growers recognized the usefulness of IPM programs from these early successes. In late 1994, Kalamazoo Valley Plant Growers Cooperative agreed to continue their biological control program by funding a half-time horticultural program assistant, who coordinates pest scouting in 26 different greenhouses for the cooperative. MSU Exension District Agent Jerry Draheim organizes the beneficial insect program through combining grower orders and distribution. Through his work, Draheim can monitor the amount of beneficials being used in the area.

During 1995, fourteen greenhouse growers participated in the beneficial insects program. Some used the beneficials only once while others made four to six releases during the growing season. Because the beneficials were effective, growers were able to minimize pesticide applications.

The 1996 season started with growers applying beneficials earlier in the season. From past experience, growers realize they must apply beneficials before targeted pests become established. The size of the orders of beneficials is also increasing. Some weeks more than $1,000 worth of beneficials are applied in greenhouses.

Although there are some disappointments with the results, successes are beginning to pique the interest of more growers. One knows the program is working when word of mouth convinces "doubters" to join.

For more information about the program contact Gerald Draheim at:

- Gerald E. Draheim, MSU Extension Kalamazoo County (From an article originally published in The IPM Report: Integrated Pest Management in Michigan)

If you're an Extension Agent with a biological control education success story, we'd love to publish YOUR story!
Contact the Editor.

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