Dissemination of information on biological control of whitefly to poinsettia growers through educational videos

Project Code PRR13-050

Project lead

Brian Ross  Third Wave Communications, Vancouver, British Columbia

Objective

Provide an educational resource to Canadian greenhouse ornamental growers about biological control of whiteflies on poinsettias and advice on how to implement this pest management approach in their greenhouse operation

Summary of Results

Background

Biological control can provide effective, reduced risk management of greenhouse pests, and Canadian greenhouse floriculture growers have demonstrated a willingness to implement these approaches in their operations. Adoption, however, could improve with a greater availability of training materials demonstrating these techniques online. Educational videos specifically can provide an engaging platform on which to transfer these management approaches to growers

Approaches

A sub group of the Greenhouse Floriculture Strategy working group was formed to define the parameters of the project and to determine what content would be of most use to growers and crop professionals. Whitefly, a common greenhouse pest with several effective biological control agents available was chosen as a good example of a successful biological control program currently being implemented in some Canadian greenhouses. Poinsettia growers in particular have achieved successful whitefly control using an integrated pest management program with a heavy emphasis on biological control. Filming took place in Niagara, Ontario where 50 per cent (%) of Canada’s 2013 production of 8.5 million potted poinsettia plants were grown.

Results

A three part video series featuring research scientists, provincial specialists and growers demonstrating and educating about integrated pest management was produced through this project. The first video shows growers how to monitor for whitefly in the greenhouse and includes demonstrations of both tools and diagnostic techniques for whiteflies at different stages of production. The second video provides information on how to implement biological control techniques for whitefly on poinsettia. This video includes information on the type of packaging the agents arrive in, how to store them, where and when to apply them in the greenhouse and how to evaluate the health of biological control agents using diagnostic equipment such as hand lenses. The biological control agents featured in this video include: parasitic wasps (Encarsia formosa, Eretmocerus mundus and Eretmocerus eremicus), the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii and the black ladybeetle, Delphastus catalinae.

The third video includes interviews with growers highlighting their experiences in applying these approaches. This video uses interviews to discuss common concerns and issues with the use of biological control and how to address them.

Growers knowing what types of insects are present in the greenhouse can prevent unnecessary pesticide applications. In addition, knowing how to use biological control agents effectively can increase the success of reduced risk approaches and growers’ confidence in applying biological control in their operations.

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