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Greenhouse Pest Control


Greenhouse pest control differs from household pest control in that you have an entirely enclosed environment in which to work. Certain chemicals that are not labelled for home use are appropriate for greenhouse use.

In our greenhouse situation, which is different than what a typical crop grower has, we have devised a system that works for us. Since we have a huge mix of plant species which are here for a limited amount of time, a "one shot" type of control is not feasible. With the constant influx of new plants and distribution of others, a biological control regimen is also out of the question. We have had to adopt what is known as Integrated Pest Management or IPM for short.

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

The IPM approach can be applied to both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, such as the home, garden, and workplace. IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides. In contrast, organic food production applies many of the same concepts as IPM but limits the use of pesticides to those that are produced from natural sources, as opposed to synthetic chemicals.

In our situation, we use several types of pest control that are rotated often to discourage resistance. We treat plants for specific pests on a regular, weekly basis and more often as needed. Although we are certified for pesticide application of restricted cemicals, of the chemicals we use, 95% are unrestricted. There are a few chemicals in our arsenal that are restricted but are used very sparingly. Some of the chemicals we use can be mixed together in the tank, others can't. For information, it is critically important to read the labels of the particular materials we choose to use.

First line of defense: Inspection. We inspect every shipment that comes into the loading dock. Any plants that are questionable are quarantined and treated as early as possible. This early diagnosis will avert any long-term problems. Ongoing inspection also catches potential infestations in the earliest stages when they are most easily controlled.

Sanitation: Many visitors to our greenhouses remark at their cleanliness. We keep everything as clean as possible. Plant cleanings and debris are swept up and removed. Floors and walls are periodically scrubbed and exterior areas around and near the greenhouses are mowed and kept free of weeds and debris. Diseased plants are examined and destroyed. Any unusual plant symptoms are investigated early.

Equipment: We use both a high-volume sprayer and an electrostatic sprayer.

The high volume sprayer is basically a tank on wheels with a hose and special multi-angle sprayer that covers plant surfaces more easily. It uses more water in the mix and is good for plants that require a light drench.

The electrostatic sprayer, though more expensive to use, is highly effective. It provides better coverage by electrically charging particles in the aerosol that cling to the plants. The misture is applied with less water in the mix so the plants are not soaked as much and the sprayer can cover a larger area between tank refills. With either device, the plant surfaces must be completely covered (especially the undersides of the leaves) with the solution in order to thoroughly kill the insects.

Less often we use a siphon which hooks into the watering nozzle and draws from a bucket of chemicals. Care must be taken to mix properly to take into account the rate of the siphon. We use this more often to apply chemicals as a drench.

 

Chemical Selection. The first part of chemical selection is identifying the pest. Check this page for an article on pest identification.


Specific pests we see and controls we use:

 Aphids:

Soft-bodied insect easy to kill by suffocation

Sunspray: Benign, oil based. Suffocates insects

 

M-Pede: Safers type but usually higher concentration. Benign

Endeavor: Stops insects feeding. Has residual effect. Toxic.

Marathon: Systemic. Used on Hibiscus as preventitive, Liquid form is used for outbreak.

 Spider Mites

Avid: Paralizes insects. They stop feeding and die.

Floramite:
Contact kills insects. Some residual control.

Sanmite: Contact kills insects. Some residual control.

 Mealy Bugs: Soft-bodied insect that is easy to kill by suffocation

M-Pede: Safers type but usually higher concentration. Benign

Sunspray Oil: Benign, oil based. Suffocates insects

Decatholon: Broad spectrum, kills on contact. Suffocates insects.

 Scale: Non-mobile insects easy to suffocate. Once scale is dislodged, drench plant to kill eggs.

M-Pede: Safers type but usually higher concentration. Benign

Sunspray Oil: Benign, oil based. Suffocates insects

Talstar: Broad spectrum contains Bifenthrin.

 Thrips: Hide in buds, hard to kill.

Avid: Paralizes insects. They stop feeding and die.

Conserve: Effective contact kill.

Pedestal: Disrupts molting. Effective on young bugs. Use in combination with other chemicals for adults.

 Fungus Gnats: In soil, hard to erradicate. Best way is with culture and sanitation. They like decaying, soggy material. Removing this and drying out the soil helps.

Gnatrol

Traps: Yellow sticky cards

Pylon: Contact kill that disrupts stomach activity. Insect is unable to generate energy. Also used for Mites.

 White Fly:  Characterized by a cloud of white flying insects, white fly is a nuisance and can do damage to plants if the population is out of control.

Avid: Paralizes insects. They stop feeding and die.

Endeavor: Stops insects feeding. Has residual effect. Toxic.

Marathon II : Liquid or Systemic granular.

Pedestal: Disrupts molting. Effective on young bugs. Use in combination with other chemicals for adults.



Useful Links:

Ohio State University, Yard and Garden Section

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