Fungi, Predatory Mites and Habitat Plants for Thrips IPM in Greenhouse Ornamentals

Principal Investigators:
Margaret Skinner, Jae-Su Kim, Cheryl Frank (UVM)
Effective Dates:  
9/1/2008 - 8/31/2011

We have initiated research to test a novel plant-mediated approach for IPM of western flower thrips (WFT), combining predatory mites, granular entomopathogenic fungi and indicator plants into one effective “habitat plant system”. The concept of this system is that adult WFT are attracted from the crop to the marigolds, where they will become established. The predatory mite,
Neoseiulus =Amblyseius cucumeris
, is released onto the plant from a sachet, and feeds on thrips in the foliage and pollen from the flowers when there are no WFT. A portion of the WFT that escapes predation drops to the soil to pupate, where they will come in contact with spores of strains of the insect-killing fungus Beauveria bassiana, and become infected. The fungus is applied as a granular formulation to the soil and incorporated into the top 1-2 inches. This nutrient-based formulation enables the fungus to colonize the potting mix, eliminating the need for repeat applications. This concept represents a sustainable, low-cost, ecological way  to combat WFT.

(1) Assess the impact of soil applications of granular formulations of insect-killing fungi on the population dynamics of western flower thrips.

(2) Evaluate the combined effect of a granular fungal formulation and predatory mites within a habitat plant system to prevent the buildup of western flower thrips populations.

Methods Overview:

Year 1: Assessment of fungal forumlation application rates under laboratory conditions (2009)
Year 2: Assessment of most effective fungal forumation application rate combined with predatory mites under laboratory conditions
Year 3: Assessment of the effectiveness of the system under commercial greenhouse conditions (2011)

ConceptDiagramClick Here for Larger View
Results: Under Analysis


IPM Methods for Insect Management: Plant Mediated Systems for Managing Western Flower Thrips.
Adapted from: Skinner, M., J.S. Kim, C. Frank, S. Gouli & B.L. Parker. 2009. Plant-mediated systems for managing western flower thrips. In: 2009 new England Vegetable and Berry Conference and trade Show. 15-17 December, 2009. Manchester, NH.

Funding Agencies
USDA Agricultural Research Service
USDA CSREES Northeast IPM Program
USDA Multi-state HATCH