Phytoseiulus (Pronounced: FY-TOE-SOO-LUS) persimilis is a predatory mite capable of eating large numbers of red spider mites, it moves amongst the plants to find its prey.
It is slightly larger than the red spider mite. With a pear shaped shiny red body, it has long legs and is a quick mover. Young stages are oval and very pale pink.
Phytoseiulus Life Cycle
Each Phytoseiulus can produce 50-60 eggs in 3 weeks. Egg to adult takes about 12 days at 20ºC (68ºF), and half that at 30ºC.
Many hundreds of spider mites will be eaten by a single Phytoseiulus during its life cycle, and it will eat all stages of red spider mite.
Phytoseiulus reproduces at twice the rate of red spider mite at 18ºC (64ºF) and above.
If all the red spider mites are eaten, Phytoseiulus will disperse and die.
Phytoseiulus must be introduced at the first sign of red spider mite infestation. If there is a history of this pest in a greenhouse or conservatory it is advisable to check carefully for signs of red spider mite activity early in the spring.
The air temperature must be around 20ºC (68ºF) for at least part of the day and humidity should be kept fairly high by damping down or misting. NB. The temperature must not fall below 10ºC (50ºF).
Phytoseiulus can be used indoors or outside provided the temperature is sufficient.
Phytoseiulus cannot be stored, it needs to be used immediately upon receipt.
As a basic rule you should achieve control of red spider mite in about three weeks if the starting ratio of red spider mite to Phytoseiulus is no greater than 20 spider mite to 1 Phytoseiulus.
You will know when Phytoseiulus is working as new foliage will not show signs of damage.
Like all Defenders biological controls, Phytoseiulus is harmless to children, pets and wildlife.
Cryptolaemus (Pronounced CRIP-TOE-LEE-MUS)is a black or dark brown ladybird with an orange head and tail, it is about 4mm in length and originally from Australia.
It’s larvae are white and look rather like very large mealybugs, up to 1cm in length, with a waxy covering, they are more mobile than mealybug.
Cryptolaemus Life Cycle
Egg to adult takes about 25 days at 30ºC or 72 days at 18ºC. Females start laying eggs about 5 days after emerging as adults, they lay single eggs into the woolly mealybug egg masses, and lay about 10 eggs a day, they can lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime, they need a plentiful food supply to maintain egg production and females need to mate with males on a regular basis.
The larvae hatch out as voracious predators of mealybugs. Young larvae and adults prefer the smaller stages of mealybug, whereas the large larvae will eat mealybugs of any size. If mealybug is in short supply, Crytpolaemus may also eat young scale insects.
Being a predator, Cryptolaemus prefers quite high levels of mealybug.
Cryptolaemus is only suitable for use in a greenhouse or conservatory.
Cryptolaemus is a strong flier so if vents and doors are left open near to the treated plants they need to be netted over to prevent the Cryptolaemus from escaping.
Cryptolaemus should be released on the day of receipt, preferably in the cooler part of the day.
Cryptolaemus need the woolly egg masses of mealybugs in which to lay their eggs. Species that do not produce these may not be controlled. They will not control root mealybug.
Cryptolaemus work best in the summer and require a temperature of at least 20ºC (68ºF) for a few hours a day, and good levels of sunlight are required if they are to fly to new plants.
Cryptolaemus prefer landing on bushy, leafy plants and may be less effective on climbers and cacti.
Cryptolaemus is harmless to children, pets and wildlife.
Leptomastix (Pronounced LEP-TOE-MASS-TICKS) are tiny yellow to black wasps, about 3mm long. They are parasites of the citrus and vine mealybug. Anagyrus, a similar parasitoid is also supplied with Leptomastix. These target different stages of the mealybug lifecyle but like Leptomasix, only attack these species of Mealybug.
Leptomastix / Anagyrus Life Cycle
Female adults lay their eggs in nearly nearly or fully grown mealybugs. The parasitised mealybug becomes swollen and brown in colour, finally becoming “mummified”.
The emerging adult Anagyrus or Leptomastix cuts a small circular hole in one end of the “mummy” from which they emerge.
The life cycle takes about 4 weeks at 20ºC (68ºF) and 2 weeks at 30ºC.
Leptomastix and Anagyrus Usage
Leptomastix and Anagyrus can be used in conjunction with Cryptolaemus.
They are only suitable for use in a greenhouse or conservatory.
Temperatures above 25ºC (77ºF) are required for some part of the day, along with good levels of sunlight.
Leptomastix and Angyrus are better at searching out isolated patches of mealybugs than Cryptolaemus.
They cannot be stored and should be used on the day of receipt.
Aphidius (Pronounced: AY-FID-EE-USS) is a small slender winged parasitic wasp about 2mm long and black in colour. The female lays single eggs into immature aphids (greenfly or blackfly).
A parasitised aphid appears swollen & “mummified”, ranging in colour from gold or bronze to brown or black.
Aphidius is widely used as aphid pest control in greenhouses by commercial growers.
Aphidius Life Cycle
One female Aphidius lays up to 100 eggs in her lifetime. Eggs are laid into immature aphids.
After the Aphidius egg hatches, the larva develops inside the growing aphid, eventually killing it. The parasitised aphid then takes on a mummified appearance.
The parasite fixes the dead aphid to the leaf with a silk thread. Then the Aphidius larva spins a cocoon inside the aphid, from which it finally emerges as an adult wasp. A circular emergence hole can be seen in the back of the aphid.
The complete life cycle takes about 3 weeks at 20ºC (68ºF).
Aphidius is ideally introduced as soon as single aphids are seen on the plants. It works much better on small, isolated patches of aphids, rather than large colonies.
Once established, large aphid populations can be hard to get rid of. Use SB Plant Invigorator organic spray, targeting colonies before introducing Aphidius (which can be released as soon as the SB treated leaves are dry). In this way colonies are reduced, allowing Aphidius to operate more efficiently on any survivors. However SB should NOT be used once the beneficials have been released
Aphidius is a strong flier. Ideally, vents and/or doors near plants being treated need to be closed or netted over to prevent Aphidius from escaping.
Aphidius is more efficient on some plants than others, and seems to prefer non-hairy leaves.
Aphidius is only recommended for use in a greenhouse or conservatory. In the garden, naturally occurring Aphidius and other parasites and predators will usually appear spontaneously. Spraying colonies with SB Plant invigorator organic spray will often help this natural process. Beware not to use toxic chemical pesticides in the same way. The opposite effect may be achieved, as aphids become resistant and natural beneficials are killed.
A minimum temperature of 10ºC (50ºF) is required. At lower temperatures, use SB Plant invigorator to keep numbers down until Aphidius can be introduced.
A temperature of 18ºC (64ºF) is desirable for at least a couple of hours a day to allow the parasites to be at their most active.
Aphidius cannot be stored, it needs to be used on the day of receipt.
You will know when Aphidius is working as you will be able to see parasitised or “mummified” aphids on the leaves.
Aphidius is harmless to children, pets and wildlife.