Strawberry production in the UK has expanded with increased late-season production under Spanish tunnels. One pest that is becoming increasingly difficult to control is western flower thrips (WFT), Frankliniella occidentalis, which is showing resistance to available pesticides, including spinosad. Feeding by the pest on the flowers and developing fruits leads to bronzing of the fruit, which can cause downgrading to class 2 or, in severe cases, to crop losses. Current commercially available bio-control agents, such as the predatory mite Neoseiulus cucumeris, can suppress the pest, especially if applied early in the season as a preventative measure. However, these are not able to suppress thrips populations once they have increased later in the season.
This project aims to identify potential predators not currently exploited for WFT control that could be incorporated into a bio-control programme for the pest. The efficacy of these predators will be determined in controlled environment conditions typical of those found under Spanish tunnels. Predators may include those that are currently recommended for use on other crops which may also be effective in protected strawberry. Other naturally occurring predators of WFT in crops and surrounding habitats will also be identified.
01 April 2014 - 03 March 2017
AHDB sector cost:
DR CHANTELLE JAY
About this project
Aims and objectives:
The overall aim of the project is to identify and evaluate new predators as bio-control agents of Western Flower Thrips (WFT), to replace or supplement Neoseiulus (Amblyseius) cucumeris for control of WFT, on strawberry in polytunnels.
1. To quantify the efficacy of the six most promising predatory insects and mites available from bio-control suppliers as predators of WFT in strawberry flowers
2. To investigate the species of insects and mites responsible for natural predation of WFT in flowers in crops and surrounding habitats, identifying those which may potentially be exploited for bio-control of WFT