Better Pest Management through Desire,
Knowledge and Practice
Oak Run, CA
Better Pest Management (BPM) is a dynamic system which allows for improvement through feedback and adjustments as more tools and knowledge become available. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a term that has come to mean anything from using biological control and various cultural practices to the integration of a number of different classes of chemical insecticides. For example, recognizing the need for resistance management, at least one chemical company suggests "use of proper rotation techniques [of chemical classes] will result in consistent insect control" (Paronaagian, 19951).
Short-term profit with little regard for long-term consequences may be viewed as a "necessary" approach for some individuals or groups, but others are interested in a strategy with long-term considerations, which are profitable. It should be understood that profit must be considered in any pest management program; otherwise, why bother?
The idea of making a profit while using the best methods available and developing a long-term strategy for managing pests must start with the desire to do so. As long as we have a quick solution to a current problem, why look further? Part of Better Pest Management is the recognition that one can win the battle yet lose the war. Killing a target pest that results in even higher pest populations and/or "creating" secondary pests that are not controllable has created the desire for many growers to look at Better Pest Management practices in order to increase profits.
In the real world, desire must be coupled with knowledge and appropriate tools. We are fortunate to be discussing these issues today. In spite of good research that has taken place (and is taking place), much is lacking in the area of knowledge and tools available for the practical application of improved pest management. Fortunately, growers are more actively seeking practical and demonstrating their desire to know more about Better Pest Management practices. One example of active participation is through Community Alliance with Family Farmers foundation (CAFF). This California organization, during the past year, held 15 monthly breakfast and lunch meetings at various chapter locations. Speakers from industry, universities, or government agencies may be invited; or, a grower who wishes to present his personal findings may be the presenter. Discussions and field days play a major role in information dissemination. This program, now in its fifth year, has been very successful. The current lack of technical support is a major constraint for many growers with the desire to make long term improvements in their pest management program.
"Paradigm shift" is a term many of us have become tired of hearing. Nevertheless, examples abound which prove that such a shift is, indeed, necessary when moving from programs of chemical IPM to programs of Better Pest Management.
This approach has been practiced by many, for decades, under various titles, but today more people and organizations are embracing the idea that we are not going to find a simple, single solution. Although the search for simplicity will continue, more people recognize the need to become informed about all the tools currently available and how best to use them. Practicing Better Pest Management, not just talking about it, is a necessary component.
Practice leads to improvement and new ideas and new tools. For example, whiteflies on poinsettias are a real world problem for most commercial growers. We still have chemicals that work yet innovative growers want to be prepared for continued resistance threats. The use of parasitoids against whitefly has become routine for some growers.
In 1994 and 1995, Beneficial Insectary undertook a project to control whiteflies (WF) on poinsettias with Chrysoperla. The other pest of consideration was fungus gnat (FG), Bradysia spp. By the second year, the job was much easier because of all the practice of the first year. The first year, however, was a time of extra monitoring, learning through experience and observation, and changing long held beliefs and customs.
For example, yellow sticky cards were introduced to the greenhouse staff and monitoring techniques taught. The objective was to include all willing members and encourage communication among the staff in order to minimize any potential stress to the employees. A complete change in practice can be very threatening to even the most interested employees; even more to those who do not embrace changes.
The yellow sticky cards allowed the staff to see increases in adult WF and FG populations. After four weeks, with adult counts increasing, it became more difficult to convince the staff that the pest problem was not getting worse. Week after week the staff saw the steady increase of the populations they had been taught to count. They were not ready to rely on the visual inspection of the plants which indicated that WF eggs and immatures were not present. Similarly, sampling the pots with potato slices proved that immature FG were not present. A lack of confidence on the part of those chosen to monitor resulted in fear of failure. The strong support and powers of observation of their supervisor brought the program to a successful conclusion.
The adult populations of FG were coming from breeding sites under benches and areas other than the containers with poinsettias. Likewise, the adult WF was not cycling in the house. The Chrysoperla larvae were feeding on WF eggs and nymphs. The 20,000 potted plants required no chemical insecticide. A benefit we had not anticipated was captured on camera when the proud owners hired a photographer because they had never seen such an extraordinary crop. That benefit was that these plants exhibited no phytotoxicity.
This particular program was difficult to initiate because the grower had experienced failure with a previous attempt at using a biological control product. The failure, in my opinion, was due to poor quality assurance and lack of technical support.
The first step taken in the new project was to introduce the natural enemy producers and teach quality assurance of product. On site inspection is necessary when using live organisms. Monitoring the pest appropriately may require a change in methodology and interpretation of data. Desire, knowledge and practice combined with good technical support, a willing staff and quality assured natural enemies provided a Better Pest Management program which is now ongoing.
Although too late for this particular application, a new tool is now available to apply predator eggs to foliage. The Bio-sprayer was invented by USDA/ARS scientists. Beneficial Insectary supplied extensive funding for research on the use of a sticker material produced by Smucker Manufacturing . The Bio-carrier and the Bio-sprayer has passed testing for use with Chrysoperla eggs and Trichogramma in host eggs. Further testing will be required to determine the use of the machine with water for predatory mite application. The Bio-Sprayer System appears to be a tool which will open the door to a new era of pest management. Better Pest Management should be part of any resistance management program. When chemicals are needed, they must be effective. The best way to reach goals including long term benefits, good pest management and profit is through desire, knowledge and practice.
1Managing Insect Resistance, 3rd International Congress on New Agricultural Technologies, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, August, 1995, p.151.
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