Whats New with Biological Control?

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

  2021 has seen a lot of new and exciting things in the world of IPM with some of the tools available to producers for managing pest populations. Please find a quick summary of some of these new developments below with their corresponding contact information – this is a list of curated material from various sources, credit must be given where credit is due!

1)Introducing Anystis, the new generalist predator in our toolbox

 Anystis is a new generalist predator which was discovered and trialed by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. This predator has shown control over thrips and spider mites as well as suppression of aphid populations. Not only that, but it also preys on Echinothrips and mealybugs, which currently do not have effective options when it comes to biological control agents! Not only that, but Anystis is compatible with other commonly used biocontrol agents, meaning less stress about adjusting your current regimes and more success overall when it comes to targeting your problematic pests. 

The use of Anystis has been validated in commercial greenhouse trials on gerbera and sweet pepper in Ontario, and further supported by promising results generated through recent trials at Niagara College for use in cannabis to control aphids. The predator has been transferred to Applied Bio-nomics Ltd for scaling up the rearing system and commercialization, and have a limited number of mites available for growers to try.

For more information on Anystis, contact Rose Buitenhuis, PhD Senior Research Scientist, Biological Control at Vineland Research.


2)Slow-release method of nematodes

The current application of beneficial nematodes is limited to sprenches, or drenches, across the surface of the growing media. The biggest targets for beneficial nematodes are the larvae of fungus gnats and western flower thrips, as well as onion thrips pupae. While the product is quite effective, the current application method to the crop sees a few technical difficulties. These drenches/sprenches are not the most effective when it comes to penetrating deeper into the growing mix, and they must be applied on a weekly basis. Not only that, but the current methods of distribution sees a very poor storage capacity – all must be distributed at once, which leaves the small producers in a bit of a financial pinch!

E-Nema is a new tech company based in Germany. They have come out with a slow-release method for these beneficial nematodes which tackles some of the difficulties associated with the existing system. These look similar to tapioca pearls, and are designed to be incorporated into the growing mix before planting. Then, over time, they will slowly release nematodes through the entirety of your growing container. These pearls are very safe, and do not contain any harmful chemicals. In addition to that, they store quite well, which is a win for smaller producers who may not need massive volumes to be distributed all at once. The reintroduction and inoculation of low doses of nematodes has proven to be more effective than coming in hot and heavy with one dose during the cycle, and this technology allows just that! 

BioBee will be the distributer for this new product, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that! I want to give a huge shoutout to the Cannabis Cultivation & Science Podcast for keeping up with the biocontrol world and spreading the word on cool innovations like this one!

3)New rearing methodology for Phytoseiulus persimilus

Our old reliable predatory mite is coming at us new and improved! BioBee has re-evaluated their current rearing methods for persimilis and has landed on a product that addresses some of the downfalls to the original release system. The original system sees that the predators are reared on spider mites, meaning they come out of their sachets starved and ready to tackle some serious spider mites. While that works well in heavily infested crops, it doesn’t bode well for the low pest pressure grow room, or the preventative release strategy either. This new product raises the predators on mite eggs, meaning that each sachet will come with a variety of life stages, and each sachet will have a long-life span overall as these different stages progress towards adulthood. These sachets can see up to 12 days to release the contents, giving you almost 2 weeks of release from one purchase. The new food source sees that these mites are not as hungry as they would be when raised on spider mites. This means they have time to establish in the crop, as well as hunt down those low density mites that are scattered through the room. Not only that, but there is no carrier mixed in with these predators. This is a huge win for producers of heavily-trichomed crops, as their plants will no longer be littered with pesky lingering carrier bits.

Figure 1. An image of persimilis predating on a two-spotted spider mite. Photo credit: Biotactics Inc. 

This new persimilis can also be purchased in bottle form. But grower be warned! It was interestingly noted that these predators are not their characteristic red colour when you receive them from the insectary. That colour develops on the persimilis as they start feeding on spider mites. This acts as an added bonus when it comes to your scouting efforts. If you note which predators have transitioned from milky to red, you can get a sense of the pest pressure in the space and how effective your release was at managing the spider mite population.

I want to give a huge shoutout to the Cannabis Cultivation & Science Podcast for keeping up with the biocontrol world and spreading the word on cool innovations like this one!


Posted by: Talia Plaskett