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  • Author or Editor: Karla M. Addesso x
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Adoption of biological control tools in woody ornamental nursery production has lagged behind other agriculture fields. One of the major obstacles to adoption is lack of information on the efficacy of various biological control agents in nursery production systems. The predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii, sold commercially as “swirski mite,” is a generalist predatory mite that has recently been adopted as a generalist control for a wide range of mite and insect pests, including thrips (Thripidae), whiteflies (Aleyrodidae), eriophyid mites (Eriophyidae), broad mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus), and spider mites (Tetranychidae). A controlled-release sachet formulation of swirski mite was evaluated in three experiments to determine whether size of the tree, timing of first application, or sun intensity would affect treatment efficacy. Pest numbers on plants was evaluated biweekly for 12 weeks. The swirski mite sachets controlled broad mite and spider mite outbreaks on red maple trees (Acer rubrum) grown in nos. 3 and 15 nursery containers, respectively. Application at the time of red maple rooted cutting transplant was not necessary to achieve summer-long control of pests. No outbreaks of target pests on flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) in no. 5 containers grown under both full sun and shade, but with low levels of broad mite persisting in the shade treatment and thrips persisting in sun. These results suggest that swirski mite is a promising candidate for biological control in woody ornamental nursery production.

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Invasive ambrosia beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) are an important pest problem at ornamental tree nurseries. Available chemical treatments are not completely effective and, due to the length of the beetle dispersal period and insecticide breakdown, repeated treatments can become costly in terms of application expense and nontarget impacts. Additional options are needed to reduce application frequency and to provide an acceptable level of crop protection. Four treatments were tested using ethanol-injected eastern redbud trees at research sites in Mississippi (MS) and Tennessee (TN) over 2 years (2014–15), with the number of new ambrosia beetle galleries compared over time on 1) nontreated control trees, 2) kaolin-treated trees, 3) bifenthrin-treated trees, and 4) kaolin + bifenthrin (k + b)-treated trees. Kaolin-treated trees rapidly lost their coating after rain events and, at 6 days after treatment (DAT) in TN, no differences were detected in the number of beetle galleries between kaolin and nontreated control trees. Kaolin + bifenthrin-treated trees appeared to retain treatment residue longer, but were not better-protected than bifenthrin-treated trees at any time. Further research is needed to determine whether an adjuvant, such as a surfactant, spreader, or sticker, may enhance the modest impact offered by kaolin in our test, or if a reduction in rates of bifenthrin may be allowable.

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