Beneficial insects protect our plants and people in the greenhouse.
Posted February 5, 2020
Here at Lockwood's we strive to reduce pesticides by using beneficial insects in the growing process. We have healthier, less stressed plants and our staff is not exposed to chemical pesticide applications.
There are many different species of beneficial insects that prey on the harmful pests that can damage and disfigure greenhouse-grown crops. Since it is an enclosed ecosystem, some form of control is necessary to bring you clean and disease-free plants. A great amount of knowledge and timing go into the application of beneficials. Our photo gallery shows some of these below. Insects are released by way of open jars on the soil surface near plants in pots, by small packets stuck into the soil, and by jars hanging in the greenhouse by hooks to release flying beneficials. Most are only visible with a magnifying lens, and when put outdoors, the insects disperse into the environment to seek out more harmful pests. Some only have a life span of 6 weeks.
Compared to chemical sprays, the cost is much higher to use beneficial insects that require weekly releases during the growing cycle. Our commitment to a safer and sustainable environment, including the workplace for our employees, outweighs the added cost of using beneficials in our greenhouses.
These packets are used to release beneficial insects that prey on fungus gnats and thrips. In high populations, fungus gnats feed on plant roots that can stunt plants and spread disease. Thrips can damage plants by feeding on pollen and damaging flowers and buds.
This is a beneficial mite that preys on spider mites. Spider mites cause stipling (tiny pin-head dots where feeding) that damage foliage causing faded or yellowing of the leaves. Webbing covering the surface of the plants appears when there is an infestation.
APHIDIUSforce - A mix of Aphidius colemani & Aphidius evri
As you may be able to deduce by the name, this beneficial preys on aphids. This harmful insect is the most recognized by gardeners as it is visible on houseplants, annuals, and perennials in the garden. Aphids damage especially the new growth and love to hang out on flower stems and buds. They weaken and disfigure the host and leave behind a sticky residue excreted by the aphid. The wasp controls populations by laying an egg in the adult body of the aphid and when it hatches, consumes the insect. Pretty gruesome, but also amazing. The body of the dead aphid left behind, still attached to the leaf, is called a "mummy".
Aphidius wasps are one of the predatory insects that can be seen in action. They are very tiny, but can be seen without the use of a hand lens. They will fly off into the greenhouse in search of aphids to lay their eggs.