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Free access

Nathan J. Herrick and Raymond A. Cloyd

Plant-derived essential oils or extracts and their associated volatiles can serve as insect attractants to enhance adult captures when used as whole plants or extracts that are incorporated onto colored sticky traps. In our study, we initially assessed the attractiveness of western flower thrips (WFT) (Frankliniella occidentalis) adults to vanilla extract in the laboratory using choice and no-choice experiments by comparing one (0.05 mL) and two (0.10 mL) drops of vanilla extract (0.029% and 0.059%, respectively). In the choice experiments, a drop of water and drop of vanilla extract were placed on opposite sides of a petri dish. One WFT was placed in the center of the petri dish, and observations were made on whether there was preferential movement to the water or vanilla extract. For the no-choice experiments, one petri dish only contained a drop of water, whereas another petri dish only contained a drop of vanilla extract. One WFT was placed into each petri dish and movement was observed to assess whether the WFT moved toward the water or to the vanilla extract. We then determined if yellow sticky cards containing vanilla extract were more attractive to WFT adults than those with water, by using the number of adults captured on yellow sticky cards as an estimate under greenhouse conditions. Western flower thrips adults were not attracted to vanilla extract based on the results associated with the choice and no-choice tests conducted under laboratory conditions with no differences in selection between vanilla extract and water. In addition, there was no evidence that inoculating yellow sticky cards with vanilla extract enhanced the number of adults captured on yellow sticky cards. Overall, the use of vanilla extract in attracting WFT adults to yellow sticky cards is not justifiable under the parameters of our study.

Open access

Nathan J. Herrick and Raymond A. Cloyd

Western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis, and fungus gnats (Bradysia spp.) are major insect pests of greenhouse production systems. Both insect pests have life stages that reside in the soil or plant-growing medium: prepupae and pupae of western flower thrips and fungus gnat larvae. There are unsubstantiated allegations made by a manufacturer that certain plant-growing media that contain a bacterium, Bacillus pumilus, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus, Glomus intraradices, negatively affect the survival of western flower thrips pupae and fungus gnat larvae. Therefore, we conducted a study involving laboratory experiments replicated over time (2019 and 2020) to investigate the influence of the plant-growing media Pro-Mix BX + Mycorrhizae and Pro-Mix BX + Biofungicide + Mycorrhizae on western flower thrips pupae and fungus gnat larvae. All experiments involved placing western flower thrips pupae or fungus gnat larvae (second and third instar) into 473-mL deli containers with the different treatments (plant-growing media). A 5 × 4-cm section of a yellow sticky card was affixed to the lid of each deli container. After 21 days, the number of western flower thrips or fungus gnat adults that emerged from the growing media and were captured on the yellow sticky cards was recorded. The use of the yellow sticky card was an indirect assessment of western flower thrips pupal or fungus gnat larval mortality. We found none of the plant-growing media tested that contained a bacterium and/or arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus affected the survival of western flower thrips pupae or fungus gnat larvae. Therefore, greenhouse producers should be leery of information provided by manufacturers that does not contain valid, scientifically based data.

Free access

Nathan J. Herrick and Raymond A. Cloyd

The fungus gnat, Bradysia sp. nr. coprophila (Lintner) (Diptera: Sciaridae), is an insect pest of greenhouse production systems. The rove beetle, Dalotia coriaria [Kraatz] (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae), is a commercially available predator of certain greenhouse insect pests that reside in growing media, including fungus gnats. There is minimal information discussing how growing medium type and moisture level (watering treatment) impact the interactions between pests and natural enemies. Therefore, we conducted laboratory and greenhouse experiments to investigate the influence of two growing media (Sunshine® LC1 Professional Growing Mix and Fafard® 3B Mix Professional Formula) and two moisture levels (“constantly saturated” and “initially saturated”) on predation by adult D. coriaria on B. sp. nr. coprophila larvae after releasing one or two rove beetle adults. In the laboratory experiment, moisture content or the amount of water retained by the growing medium did not significantly influence the recovery of adult fungus gnats for any of the rove beetle treatments. However, there was a significant difference in the recovery of fungus gnat adults between the two growing media. Fewer fungus gnat adults emerged from the Sunshine® LC1 Professional Growing Mix (0.9 ± 0.2 adults) than the Fafard® 3B Mix Professional Formula (6.0 ± 0.9 adults). Significantly fewer adult fungus gnats were recovered in the treatments where one rove beetle adult was released (2.7 ± 0.7 adults) and two rove beetle adults were released (2.3 ± 0.5 adults) compared with the control without rove beetles (5.4 ± 1.4 adults). However, there was no significant difference between the number of rove beetle adults released. In contrast to the laboratory experiment, moisture content in the greenhouse experiment significantly influenced the recovery of adult fungus gnats. More adult fungus gnats were recovered from the “constantly saturated” treatment (9.9 ± 1.4 adults) than the “initially saturated” treatment (3.8 ± 1.0 adults). Similar to the laboratory experiment, there was a significant difference in the recovery of fungus gnat adults between the two growing media, with fewer adults captured from the Sunshine® LC1 Professional Growing Mix (3.2 ± 0.8 adults) than the Fafard® 3B Mix Professional Formula (10.4 ± 1.4 adults). However, the treatments with rove beetle adults [one rove beetle (6.6 ± 1.8 adults) or two rove beetles (5.3 ± 1.5 adults)] were not significantly different from the control without rove beetles (8.6 ± 1.5 adults), suggesting that the growing media and moisture levels were acting directly on fungus gnat survival. The results of our study demonstrate that survival of fungus gnat larvae that reside in the growing medium and the success of rove beetle adults used to regulate these pests can be influenced by growing media and the moisture content within growing media.

Free access

Nathan J. Herrick and Raymond A. Cloyd

Fungus gnats, Bradysia spp. (Diptera: Sciaridae), are major insect pests because the larvae can directly damage plants grown in greenhouse production systems. In general, insecticides are commonly used to suppress fungus gnat larval populations. However, the rove beetle, Dalotia coriaria (Kraatz) (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae), a commercially available predator of insect pests, including fungus gnat larvae, may be an alternative to using insecticides. Growing medium selection used for growing plants can influence insect pest and predator interactions in greenhouse production systems; however, quantitative information is limited. Therefore, we conducted greenhouse experiments and a laboratory experiment to determine the effects of growing medium type on D. coriaria adult predation and fungus gnat, Bradysia. sp. nr. coprophila (Lintner) (Diptera: Sciaridae), larval survival when feeding on the roots of coleus, Solenostemon scutellarioides (L.) Codd, plants. In addition, experiments were conducted to determine the number of rove beetle adults, based on predator:prey ratios, needed to regulate fungus gnat larval populations. In all three experiments, fewer fungus gnat larvae survived in Pro-Mix BX than the Berger BM1 growing medium, and rove beetles reduced the number of fungus gnat larvae in both growing media in the greenhouse experiments. Although predator:prey ratio was not significant, we found that 10 rove beetle adults per 15.2-cm diameter container (1834.82 cm3 with 2.0 L of growing medium) regulated fungus gnat larval populations at the densities investigated. Therefore, greenhouse producers should consider the effects of production practices, such as growing medium type, when using rove beetles to regulate fungus gnat larval populations.

Open access

Devin L. Radosevich, Raymond A. Cloyd, and Nathan J. Herrick

The western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae), is a major insect pest of greenhouse-grown horticultural crops. Western flower thrips causes direct and indirect damage by feeding on plant leaves, flowers, and fruits, and by transmitting viruses that can result in greenhouse producers experiencing substantial economic losses. Consequently, insecticides are used to suppress western flower thrips populations. However, issues associated with applying insecticides may affect the suppression of western flower thrips populations. Therefore, experiments were conducted under greenhouse conditions to determine the effects of the spray volume applied and application frequency on insecticide efficacy against western flower thrips adults located in transvaal daisy, Gerbera jamesonii, cut flowers. Four spray volumes (5.0, 10.0, 12.5, and 25.0 mL), two application frequencies (one or two spray applications), and three insecticides [spinosad (Conserve), chlorfenapyr (Pylon), and flonicamid (Aria)], each with a different mode of action, were tested. The insecticide treatments had the greatest effects on the mean percent mortality of western flower thrips adults regardless of spray volume or application frequency. However, in Expt. 3, the 5.0- and 10.0-mL spray volumes resulted in a higher mean percent mortality of western flower thrips adults than the 2.5-mL spray volume. Spinosad and chlorfenapyr resulted in a mean percent mortality of more than 72% for western flower thrips adults, whereas flonicamid resulted in mean percent mortality between 40% and 91%. Our study demonstrates that certain insecticides are more effective against western flower thrips adults located in transvaal daisy flowers than others, which will help greenhouse producers effectively manage western flower thrips populations.