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Sound Horticulture Bug Blog

Blacksmith BioScience Showcase


Exciting biological, OMRI listed, safe for pollinators, and leaves minimal residue. 

While biologically based pesticides, fungicides, and biostimulants are not brand new, here we want to feature some of our favorite products. Keep in mind that sometimes products may be labeled as biological “inoculums” without the EPA registration as a bio fungicide or pesticide. The microbes in these products are very well researched and highly effective aides in plant production. Take a stroll through this special selection of highlighted items that our growers are especially keen on! Please feel free to reach out to us for more information and research behind these fascinating organisms!

Now is the perfect time to begin planning which beneficial fungi or microbes will be a part of your IPM/nutrient regime. Applying these Blacksmith products preventively in early spring can deliver the best results! Some soil microbes and fungi included in these products can begin activity in soil temperatures as low as 45ºF.

Blacksmith Bioscience Mission:

“Blacksmith BioScience is a microbial development company whose mission is to harness advanced technologies in order to increase our understanding of the biology that controls and assists plant fertility. We use that knowledge to develop agricultural products that maximize existing soil nutrients, reduce fertilizer usage, increase yield and improve plant nutrition. Our long term goal is to significantly reduce harmful fertilizer and chemical runoff in ecological systems around the world through use of our patented, unique biofertilizers.”

PHOTO - Western Flower Thrip infected with NoFly

Product Overview: Information, ingredients, additional benefits, and application rates


Armory SP is a high concentration of several select beneficial plant bacteria. These powerful species of Bacillus and Streptomyces are all scientifically proven plant growth, yield and vigor promoting bacteria, each with is own unique function that compliments the entire group and provides maximum aid to the plant. In addition, Armory’s proprietary formulation provides a ready food source to the Bacillus and Streptomyces strains, allowing them to thrive in the environment and provide the maximum potential benefits to the plant.

Beneficial bacteria species including:

Bacillus subtilus (4 distinct strains)

Bacillus amyloliquefaceans

Bacillus lichiniformis

Streptomyces griseus

Features and benefits:

-Solubilizes phosphorus

-Makes iron and manganese more readily available

-Increases nutrient cycling

-Not phytotoxic and no residue

-100% water soluble – no clogging

-OMRI listed and CDFA organic certified

-Available in 2 oz bag, 1 lb bag, or 12.5 lb pail

Directions for use:

Armory can be used as a drench, liquid feed, irrigation, spray, or seed treatment. It is compatible with fungicides, insecticides, fertilizers and biological stimulants. Armory is 100% soluble and does not require constant agitation to keep it suspended in solution once it has been mixed. It will not clog machinery.

Application rate:

Soil drench – Use 2-8 oz of Armory per acre. Apply in the greenhouse during transplant or through precision irrigation.

Foliar Spray – Use 1-8 oz of Armory in 50-100 gallons of water pre acre. Apply to all areas of foliage and plant to wet just prior to run off. Reapply every 7-14 days depending need.

Hydroponics systems – Use 1-4 tsp per gallon. Reapply each time nutrient solution is changed.




NoFly BioInsecticide:

NoFly WP is a highly effective biological insecticide. it is a concentration of the active ingredients Isaria fumosoroseus strain FE 9901, a naturally occurring insecticidal microorganism. This aggressive fungus is a natural predator to select insect pests while non-pathogenic to beneficials. NoFly WP is effective against whtieflies, aphids, thrips, mealybugs, and other insects.

Active ingredient:

Isaria fumosoroseus strain FE 9901

Features and benefits:

-Biological pesticide

-Attacks pests at all life stages from egg to adult

-Minimal residue issues

-Ideal for integrated pest management

-Effective against whiteflies, aphids, thrips, mealybugs, and other insects

-Safe for beneficial insects

-OMRI listed for organic use

-Available in 8 oz bag, 2 lb bag, or 20 lb pail

-6 month shelf life at room temperature, can extend to 18 months when refrigerated

-Isaria fumosoroseus FE 9901 is not a plant pathogenic organism and does not produce signficant detrimental effects on beneficial insects, including bees and bumblebees.

Directions for use:

NoFly WP consists of spores of an entomopathogenic fungus that are susceptible to high temperatures, dryness, and ultraviolet radiation. Avoid these potential adverse effects by applying the product in late afternoon, in the early morning and at mid to high relative humidity. Use sufficient water to ensure thorough coverage of the foliage including underside of leaves.

Application rate:

1 lb per 100 gallons of solution

MegaPhos Biostimulant:

Active ingredient:

-Bacillus megaterium HM87, a gram postive, rod shaped, endospore forming bacteria

Features and benefits:

-Solubilizes phosphorus and makes it available to plants even in high calcium soils

-Produces metabolites beneficial to plant growth, yield, and root production

-Lactic acid, gluconic acid, citric acid, succinic acid and enzymes that help solubilize the fixed phosphorus into an exchangeable form that is usable by plants

-These organic acids, through their hydroxyl and carboxyl groups, chelate the cations (mainly calcium) bound to phosphate converting them into the soluble forms

-Increases crop yield

-Creates a more developed root system and top growth

-Enhances plant vigor

-OMRI listed and CDFA organic certified

-Available in 2 oz bag, 1 lb bag, 12.5 lb pail

Directions for use:

-Soil incorporation, seed treatment, soil application, or foliar spray

-Drench, liquid feed, irrigation

-Compatible with fungicides, insecticides, fertilizers, and biological stimulants

-100% soluble and does not need constant agitation to keep it suspended in a solution. It will not clog machinery

Application rate:

-Soil drench – use 1-8 oz of Megaphos per acre. Apply in the greenhouse, during transplant or through precision irrigation

-Hydroponic systems – Use 1/16-1/4 tsp per gallon – Reapply each time nutrient solution is changed


Nitryx Biostimulant:

Nitryx is a high concentration of proprietary beneficial bacteria, Paenibacillus polymyxa strain P2B-2R, on a 100% water soluble powder. This powerful new technology effectively fixates nitrogen from the atmosphere and transfer the plant, thereby making fertilizer use much more efficient.

Active ingredient:

Paenibacillus polymyxa strain P2B-2R

Features and benefits:

-Fixates nitrogen

-Increases yield

-Enhances fertilizers

-Encourages root growth

-No pre-harvest or re-entry intervals

-Safe and natural

-100% water soluble

-Available in 4 oz bag or 1 lb bag

Directions for use:

Foliar spray or soil drench

-Use 1-2 teaspoons of product per gallon of water as general dilution

-Reapply every 1-8 weeks

Application rate:

2-12 oz per acre


Tenet BioFungicide:

Tenet is a biofungicide containing two species of the naturally occurring Trichoderma fungi. Tenet is used to prevent and manage soil-borne diseases like Fusarium spp., Phytophthora spp., Pythium spp., Rhizoctonia spp., Sclerotinia spp., Thielaviopsis spp., Vetricillium spp., and more by colonizing the crop's roots and surrounding soil, acting as a barrier against infective disease.

Active ingredients:

Trichoderma gamsii and Trichoderma asperellum

Features and benefits:

-Effective aginst root rot diseases such as Fusarium, Pythium, Phytopthora, Rhizoctonia, Sclerotinia and other soil borne disease

-Colonizes plants roots and lives symbiotically with the plant

-Compatible with mycorrhizal fungi, beneficial inoculants and other biologicals

-The two unique beneficial fungi work in complimentary temperature ranges:

T. gamsii germinates at 44ºF and T. asperellum germinates at 53ºF

Both are most active between 75º and 86ºF

-OMRI listed for organic use

-Available in 1 lb bag

Directions for use:

-For use as a soil drench, soil spray, irrigation or in hydroponic systems

-For best results apply as a preventative

-Applying early in the season is optimum but Tenet may be applied at any stage of the crop cycle

Application rates:

2.5 – 7.5 oz per 100 gallons of water




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Nematode Notions

Nematode Notions

While beneficial nematodes may be microscopic, they have a big impact on pest control and can achieve very visible results!

Nematodes are safe for pets, animals, biological control agents, and humans! If you are dealing with fungus gnats, thrips, or other soil dwelling pests like grubs or weevils, we recommend adding nematodes as a quick knockdown.

Life Cycle of the Beneficial Nematode

Infective juveniles are inoculated into packaging that is shipped to you!

These infective juveniles set out to find a new host to reproduce in. Preemptively saturating the root zone of plants you are treating can encourage their exploration. They infiltrate the pest through natural orifices and release symbiotic Xenorhabdus bacteria that kills the host within 24-48 hours. Infective juveniles mature into male or female adults and initiate breeding, using the pests’ resources to spawn future generations. These fresh infective juvenile nematodes will leave and scour the root zone for a new host and continue this cycle.

We offer nematode options from two main suppliers, Sierra Biological and BASF

While application rates may differ, we want you to know that these products are equally effective.

Application Rates:


-50 million per 1,000 Sq ft of soil surface

-250 million per 5,000 Sq ft of soil surface

-1-2 Billion per acre

Sierra Biological

-1 million per 1,000 sq ft of soil surface

-24 million per acre

Application rates will vary based on target pest, reach back to us at Sound Horticulture for specific guidelines based on soil depth of pest, media type, and other growing factors.

Nematodes can be applied as a drench, through spray equipment, or through irrigation systems. Nematodes are also compatible with many fertilizer and soil applied pesticides/fungicides. Compatibility has been tested with over 100 different chemical pesticides such as insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides.


PHOTO - Beneficial nematodes mixed with water and examined under a microscope. 

Reasons to choose each:

BASF nematodes are reared in vitro meaning within a culture dish. While this option may have higher application rates, they are still very effective and have extended shelf life when stored in refrigeration. These nematodes can be stored up to 6 weeks! These nematodes are shipped in trays of 50 million, 250 million, or 1,250 million. BASF is one of the largest producers in the world and have been in business for over 150 years! Check out a tour of their industrial facility here!

Sierra Biological uses in vivo production or as they say, “Mother Nature’s very own formula” This can be much more labor intensive but creates a wonderfully active and effective population. Wax worms arethe perfect rearing host to produce these nematodes for production and sale. These nematodes are shipped in a sponge that are pre-inoculated with infective juveniles, sizes range from 1 million, 6 million, and 24 million of either single species or blends. We also offer other formulations, please inquire for more details.

Beneficial Nematodes are used to control a variety of soil-dwelling pest. There are several types of nematodes, each specializing in the eradication of various pests.

Pests targeted by species:

Steinernema feltiae:

-Fungus gnats (Bradysia spp.)

-Western Flower Thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis)

Heterorhabditis bacteriophora:

-European chafer grub (Rhizotrogus majalis)

-Japanese beetle grub (Papillia japonica)

-Oriental beetle grub (Exomala orientalis)



Steinernema carposcapsae:

-Black vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus)

-Cranberry girdler (Chrysoteuchia topiaria)

-Shore Fly (Scatella stagnalis)

-Cut worms (Agrostis sp.)

-Army worms (Spodeptera frugiperda)

-Wood borers (Buprestidae sp.)

Steinernema krassei:

-Cold tolerant species (Optimal range 41-86ºF)

-Black vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus)


Application Tips:

Best Practices

• Use fresh nematodes, they can be stored in the refrigerator for multiple weeks but have the highest efficacy when fresh. Examine under a microscope and look for wiggly live worms. Dead nematodes will be straight as a pin.

• Apply early in the morning or in the evening as nematodes are susceptible to desiccation and UV light. When ready to apply, bring nematodes out of refrigeration and allow them to warm up in room temperature for 20 minutes. Always use room temperature water to mix the nematodes.

• Apply to already moist soil and keep the soil moist for several days after application. Soil should be 54-86ºF.

Remove all filters if using sprayer or irrigation and keep pressure below 300 psi.

Once mixed, use within a couple hours and keep agitated as nematodes will sink to the bottom. Try to only make enough solution to hit every plant you are trying to treat. Nematodes left in reservoirs will die as they are soil dwelling creatures, not aquatic. They need the water to reanimate from their packaged state.

Do not oversaturate pots, the nematodes will flow through the pot and exit the drain holes.

Watering By Hand (Home growers)

1. Mix a stock solution. Add 2 gallons of clean, cool water to a five-gallon bucket and mix in nematodes. Allow five minutes to disperse. Continue to stir throughout the application as they will sink to the bottom.

2. Add 1 cup of stock solution to a 2 gallon watering bucket. Water plants to saturate the potting medium 2″ deep. This will fill 32 buckets.

3. Apply approximately 3 oz/4 inch pot and 8 oz/ 1 gallon pot. 



Steinernema feltiae nematode sponge

Steinernema feltiae (SF) is unique in maintaining infectivity in soil temperatures as low as 50ºF (10º C). SF has a foraging strategy in between “ambush” and “cruiser” and is effective against immature dipterous insects including mushroom flies, fungus gnats, thrips, and tipulids as well as some lepidopterous larvae.


Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (HB) nematode sponge

Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (Hb) is a warm temperature nematode performing best above 70ºF (20ºF) soil. Hb is among the most ecomonically important entomopathogenic nematodes that possess considerable versatility, attacking lepidopterous and coleopterous insect larvae among other insects. This “cruiser” species appears quite useful against root weevils, particularly black vine weevil where it has provided consistently excellent results.


Steinernema carpocapsae (SC)

Steinernema carpocapsae (Sc) is the most studied of all entomopathogenic nematodes and most effective between 72-82ºF (22-28ºC). They can also survive for several months in room-temperature soil. Sc is particularly effective against lepidopterous larvae, including various armyworms, cutworms, webworms, girdlers, some weevils, and wood-borers. A classic sit-and-wait or “ambush” forager, it stands on its tail in an upright position near the soil surface and attaches to passing hosts. Therefore, Sc is especially effective against highly mobile surface-adapted insects.

BASF NEMAforce SF tray

Beneficial nematodes attack, invade and kill targeted pests in the easily applied form of NemaForce SF Biosolutions by BASF.

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Thrips Control and Intraguild Predation

Thrips Control and Intraguild Predation

Are you familiar with different species of Thrips?

Have you ever wondered if beneficial bugs are compatible?

Will releasing more than one biocontrol agent at a time lead to them eating each other?


PHOTO - Orius insidiosus on dianthus kahori, Photo by Alec Blume

This week we are going over various species of thrips, identification, and control.

The most common species of Thrips in North America are Western Flower Thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) a pest found in both vegetable and ornamental crops, Onion Thrips (Thrips tabaci) usually a problem only in vegetable crops, and Chili Thrips (Scirtothrips dorsalis) which is a significant global pest of ornamental, vegetable, and fruit crops. While these three species of Thrips are pests that damage your crop, it is important to note that there are predatory Thrips, such as the Sixspotted Thrips, Banded Thrips, and Franklinothrips. These species will feed on pests and actually help your crops! Lowering pesticide usage through using biocontrol agents can boost these beneficial populations.

PHOTOAdult Thrips tabaci female

Thrips Damage, Life Cycle, and Control

Thrips have a feeding damage pattern that typically leaves behind silvery splotches with darker spots which are known as frass (excrement). While this may appear on some plants, their damage can vary depending on plant species. Their eggs are also laid inside leaf tissue which gives their offspring a perfect place to emerge and begin feeding. As populations increase, damage will become more noticeable and will bring on further stress symptoms to the plant. Some of the more economic impacts of this pest include the distortion and stunted growth of fruit and leaves that is a result of the plant being robbed of its precious water and nutrients. This damage will significantly lower your crops value. On tomatoes, thrips feeding can cause “ghost rings” on the fruit. Further, thrips are also known to be viral vectors meaning their feeding can spread viruses from plant to plant. One example of this is Western Flower Thrips transmitting Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus, which is lethal to tomatoes and some ornamentals.

Each of these three species of thrips have similar life cycles. Eggs are laid in leaf tissue and hatch after 5-8 days. Female thrips can lay 6-10 eggs per day over their life span of 4-5 weeks. Just one female can lay upwards of 200 eggs in her lifetime. The nymphs feed on plant tissue for 8-10 days, then drop to the ground to complete development in protected sites in the soil. The prepupa and pupa stages are both non-feeding stages while in their underground development stage. When fully grown adults emerge, they fly to upper parts of plants to continue feeding and laying eggs after a day or two.

As with any pest, a combination of biological and cultural controls, compatible chemicals and preventative measures gives the best results. These biological controls described below are compatible and can be used together.

Amblyseius cucumeris/Amblyseius swirskii – These predatory mites feed on immature stages of thrips. The cheaper, slow release sachets are a great option for long term coverage and are easy to hook on every plant. A. cucumeris will feed on both Western Flower Thrips and Onion Thrips. A. swirskii may be a good option for Chili thrips. If you need help determining the best choice of predator mite for your particular growing environment, please contact us at Sound Horticulture. We would be happy to help!

Orius insidiosus – This tiny pirate bug feeds on pollen and all mobile stages of thrips. When Orius is combined with A. cucumeris, relatively low release rates have given excellent control. One of best feature of this predator is that it will feed on all life stages of thrips, including adults! For complete control it is important to use a predator that can eat immature and adult stages. They also have small wings and can fly short distances, giving them a solid chance at thoroughly exploring your canopy in search of food. Orius will feed on WFT, Onion, or Chili thrips.

Stratiolaelaps scimitus – This soil-dwelling predatory mite feeds on the immature stages of thrips in the soil or growing media. Strats alone cannot control thrips infestations, but it contributes to the effectiveness of biological control when used other predators. This predator will also feed on fungus gnat larvae, which do actively feed on roots.

Monitoring and scouting are also important in controlling this pest. Many growers will be familiar with the yellow sticky trap. Thrips happen to be more attracted specifically to blue sticky traps. In areas where Thrips are the main pest concern, blue sticky traps should be used. Yellow sticky traps may make counting and identifying pests more accurate and will also attract other flying pests such as fungus gnats, winged aphids, as well as thrips. Tracking pest levels stuck to the cards on a regular basis can give you an idea if pest populations are increasing or declining. They can also give you an idea of where these pests are more present in your space. This can help you determine where your biocontrols can be most useful. Here at Sound Horticulture, we offer both of these sticky traps and have plenty available for your growing space!
PHOTO -  Life cycle of the Western Flower Thrips. Note the soil inhabiting prepupa and pupa stages. Using soil predators can help eliminate thrips from becoming full grown adults. This can often be overlooked as a method of thrips control.

Thrips Identification

It is imperative to identify the species of thrips that are causing damage to your plants. Certain thrips species can put a halt on plant exportation (Chili thrips) and some methods of control may differ for some species. Onion thrips and chrysanthemum thrips are both susceptible to spinosad containing products while Western Flower Thrips are not. Echinothrips is a species that does not pupate in the soil so Stratiolaelaps will not be as effective for control.

Check out this link for more information on identification. This key was developed by Dr. Sarah Jandricic, currently the Greenhouse Floriculture IPM Specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

What is Intraguild Predation?

Intraguild Predation (IGP) occurs when one biological control agent feeds on another biological control agent.

Predators that feed on the same prey are known as a guild. This occurrence can lead to a negative effect on the impact of the biocontrols. “Through intense intraguild predation, predators can reduce the impact of other guild members such as the parasitoids that are released to control the aphid population, and trigger or worsen prey outbreaks indirectly and potentially allow for an increase in the amount of aphid damage to the plants.” (Rosenheim et al., 1993; Snyder and Ives, 2001, 2003)

Some examples of observed IGP are:

Neoseiulus californius will feed on Phytosieulus persimilis while they both share the same prey of Two Spotted Spider mites

Amblyseius swirskii will prey upon the larvae of the aphid predatory midge Aphidoletes aphidimyza and will also feed on the eggs, larvae and nymphs of P. persimilis

Orius insidiosus will feed on sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, nymphs that have been parasitized by the parasitoid Encarsia formosa

We are aware of these intraguild interactions and will cater your orders to meet your company’s needs considering growing environment and achieving comprehensive control while avoiding IGP.

Orius insidiosus

Also known as Minute Pirate Bug, Orius insidiosus are generalist predators that consume pollen and a variety of species of small, soft-bodied insects including mites, aphids, and small caterpillars. They are most effective for pests with life stages that inhabit flowers (such as flower thrips), as adults are attracted to, and often found in flowers. All stages of Orius move very quickly. The adults are good flyers and move efficiently throughout a greenhouse to locate prey.

Application rate: 0.5 – 1 per 10 square feet of canopy


Amblyseius cucumeris or swirskii

A. cucumeris prefers to feed on first instar thrips larvae but will also feed on second instars. Being a generalist, it is also capable of feeding on other mites such as broad mites, the eggs of two-spotted spider mites, and pollen in the absence of prey. It works well on low to moderate infestations of thrips and as a preventative measure but should be used with other thrips predators such as Orius, or A. swirskii for improved control of serious infestations. Apply with Stratiolaelaps scimitus (formerly called Hypoaspis miles) to control thrips pupae
in the growth media.
Application rate: 25-40 mites per sq ft depending on pest severity. If dealing with broad or russet mites, 60 per sq ft.


Dalotia coriaria

Atheta coriaria or Rove beetle (Dalotia coriaria), formerly known as Atheta coriaria, is a native species of a soil-dwelling rove beetle which feeds on small insects and mites. Both adults and larvae are active aggressive predators and are attracted to decomposing plant or animal material and algae, where their hosts are found. While they are beetles, they do not necessarily look like beetles. They are light to dark brown in color, with adults being 3-4 mm long. They are slender with short wing covers. Rove beetles have an interesting habit of curving their abdomen upwards like scorpions and can run or fly when disturbed (usually close to the ground). Since they can actively fly, they rapidly colonize the release area. However, too many Atheta in flight may be because of disturbance to their home.

Application rate: 0.1 to 0.5 per sqft


Stratiolaelaps scimitus

Stratiolaelaps scimitus ‘Womersley’ (formerly Hypoaspis miles) is a native species of soil dwelling mite, which feeds on small insects and mites (e.g., springtails, root mealybug crawlers, spider mites). They move rapidly over the soil surface. Stratiolaelaps are used primarily to control young larvae of fungus gnats in the soil or planting media. To control high numbers of fungus gnats, use of Stratiolaelaps can be integrated with insect parasitic nematodes (e.g., Steinernema spp.) or Bacillus thurinigiensis israelensis (BTI), both of which control the larval stage of fungus gnats. They also help control soil stages of thrips and may account for up to 30% of thrips control.

Application rate: Roughly 25,000 per 1000 square feet of soil medium


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Fall Newsletter: Attack of the Mealybugs

Fall Newsletter: Attack of the Mealybugs

Photo by Maddy Baker

As we move into the fall, we have received a spike of inquiries detailing mealybug outbreaks. 

With that in mind, we would like to share some information on the subject, hoping we can shed some light on a fairly common pest. There are two main species of Mealybug that we see here in the US. Longtailed mealybug (featuring tails that can protrude as long as the main body of the insect) and citrus mealybug(does not feature long tails). There is also a species of mealybug that can reside in soil so checking root balls can be crucial for plant care.

Mealybug Hosts

Longtailed Mealybug hosts: Dracaena, avocado, citrus, grapes, pear, persimmon, pineapple, tropical/subtropical plants, cycads, orchids, jade, oleander, beans, flax, guava, apple, potato, lemon, begonia, sedum, sempervivum and other ornamentals.

Citrus Mealybug hosts: As the name suggests, these are primarily pests of citrus but also enjoy ornamentals, vegetables, and fruits. They seem to prefer grapefruit over other citrus but other hosts include amaryllis, asparagus, begonia, cactus, coconut, coleus, croton, cucurbits, cyclamen, dahlia, yams, ficus, strawberries, gardenia, impatiens, poinsettia, sweet potato, mango, bananas, avocado, guava, pomegranate, pineapple, pear, apple, eggplant, tulips, milkweed, rosemary, and the list goes on!

Needless to say, these pests have a very wide host range and can attack many houseplants. Production growers should be vigilant of these pests and should consistently ship out clean material. It is always a good idea to inspect plants thoroughly, even the soil, before sending them off to customers.


Pictured are 3 different developmental stages of mealybugs right next to each other. Smaller nymphs leading up to a full grown female adult mealybug.

Photo by Brendan Kelly 

Mealybug Damage: Signs to Look Out for

Mealybugs and other insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts, like aphids, feed directly from the host plant vascular system. Feeding from this pest can lead to wilted, yellowed chlorotic leaves, premature leaf drop, stunted growth, and even death!! The sugary honeydew secreted from mealybugs as a byproduct of their feeding habit can cause sooty mold to grow on plant surfaces, hindering photosynthetic capability. The honeydew can also attract ants to the situation which can lead to distribution of the mealy pest.

 Options for Control:

For small infestations, a light isopropyl alcohol solution spray can help kill some of these pests on contact without damaging your plants. Mechanical removal by washing plants with water can help significantly as well. These pests are great at getting down into plant crevices and hidden points in new growth that will help keep the covered from sprays and washes, not to mention their waxy coating can also act as a barrier to sprays. Another defensive behavior that has been observed is the egg laying, adult female Mealybug covering stage 1 and 2 instars when sprays are being conducted.

Commercially, we can offer an entomopathogenic fungi such as Beauveria bassiana to help with mealybug outbreaks. Some of the products that we offer including this fungi are Velifer, Botanigard MAXX, Mycotrol, and BioCeres. Another successful biopesticide that we offer is the beneficial fungus product NoFly. This contains the fungal organism Isaria fumosorosea and works wonders for mealybug control. Long Shadow does include mealybug on its label but comes with caveat that cinnamon oil can be highly phytotoxic, so use caution and do a test before spraying everything.

Cryptolaemus montrouzieri are the best biocontrol option. These adults and their larvae are both predacious and a single Cryptolaemus can eat up to 250 small mealybugs over its lifetime. Their larvae do look oddly similar to the mealybug, although they appear a bit “harrier”, are much larger, and eventually turn into an adult Ladybird Cryptolaemus. They spend about 2-3 weeks as larvae and can live over a month as an adult. This gives them close to 50 days of life, which is pretty long compared to other beneficial predators. They may be more effective against citrus mealybug because they are known to lay eggs in cottony masses. The long tailed mealybug is still a good prey option for the Cryptolaemus but are not known to lay eggs which is an easy target for the predator. The predators will likely go after younger mealybugs first. The Cryptolaemus is a specialized predator so its’ main focus will be the Mealybug.

Chrysoperla rufilabris, or the Green Lacewing is a generalist predator that will eat just about anything (including its own kind!). These predators have shown success in controlling mealybugs and can be a cheap option for coverage of multiple pest issues.

Mealybugs can reproduce without mating, like aphids and each female can lay up to 350-600 eggs. The mealybugs can each live for around a month and will do damage the entire time. Some mealybugs can also be found colonizing in soil so scouting root masses can be an integral part of monitoring and control.

Sources of this information are:

-New Zealand Landcare Research

-NC State Extension

-University of California IPM

-University of Florida Entomology Department 

Cryptolaemus montrouzieri is the most commonly used biological control for mealybugs. Cryptolaemus is used to control mealybugs mainly in interior plantscapes. They can be used outdoors, but will not survive sub-freezing temperatures. To keep mealybug populations down to acceptable levels in greenhouses, several releases of Cryptolaemus may be necessary, particularly during winter months. They are less effective on longtailed mealybug (Pseudococcus longispinus) because this species lacks the cottony masses Cryptolaemus requires for egg laying.

Adults and young larvae prefer to eat mealybug eggs, but older larvae will feed on all stages of mealybugs. The adults can fly and cover large areas to search for food. If food is scarce they will also eat soft scales and aphids. 



BioCeres WP targets common insect pests such as aphids, whiteflies and thrips.

BioCeres WP is a contact biological insecticide that contains the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. This particular strain, ANT-03, was isolated from Lygus bugs in Canada. It works by germinating into the cuticle of insects and releasing toxins while also consuming the hemolymph.

One of the advantages of BioCeres is that it is an i-502 allowable product containing B. bassiana without the pyrethrins. BioCeres WP can also be tank mixed with several other biorational pesticides (check the technical info for specific combinations).

 NoFly WP is a naturally occurring fungi strain which acts as a natural pesticide. The concentrated spores of Isaria fumosoroseus strain FE 990. Highly effective under humid conditions, this microbial fungal spore germinates and infects a select group of pests, including aphids, whitefly, thrips, mealy bugs and more. Beneficial predator mites that may be in your growing system are not affected. See the link for additional label and important application instructions. NoFly WP is also compatible with many chemicals making it an excellent tool for use in an integrated pest management (IPM) program.



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Broad mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus) biology and management

Click here for broad mite management products. 

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Broad mites (Polyphagotarsonemus latus) are tiny tarsonemid mites which are difficult to scout for, and may spread on clothing, air currents, or even other pests. They are pests of 60 plant families, which include food and ornamental crops (Zhang 2003). Affected plants include pepper, tomato, cucumber (Heinz et al. 2004; Zhang 2003), soybeans, citrus (Vacante and Kreiter 2017), blackberry, raspberry, strawberry (Gobin et al. 2017), African violet, begonia, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, dahlia, gloxinia, fuchsia, gerbera, hibiscus, impatiens, and ivy (Heinz et al. 2004; Zhang 2003).


Broad mites are very small (0.007” long; Heinz et al. 2004; Vacante and Kreiter 2017) and have varying colors that are influenced by the host plant (Zhang 2003; Vacante and Kreiter 2017). Their bodies are typically hard and shiny (Gerson and Weintraub 2007) and the females will have a faint white stripe in the center of their backs (Zhang 2003; Vacante and Kreiter 2017). Males are shorter than females and tapered toward the rear (Zhang 2003). Positive identification requires slide-mounted specimens and a skilled acarologist but knowing the host plant and being able to recognize the signs and symptoms can provide an indication of their presence. A useful diagnostic for broad mites is their eggs, which look like small footballs with rows of protruding white spots.


Broad mites feed on buds, blossoms, new leaves, and young fruit (Gerson and Weintraub 2007; Vacante and Kreiter 2017; Weintraub et al. 2017; Zhang 2003) which results in damage similar to that from hormonal weed killers (Zhang 2003). Generally, this manifests as bronzed leaves with down-curling margins, aborted and distorted buds and vegetation, twisted shoots, and misshapen or russeted fruit (Vacante and Kreiter 2017). The feeding prevents flower and fruit development on pepper seedlings and causes flower loss and silvering of fruit on older plants (Vacante and Kreiter 2017). Damage to eggplants is similar to that of peppers (Vacante and Kreiter 2017). To gerbera, leaves can split or crack open resulting in a rugged look, and flowers have distorted and discolored rays (Vacante and Kreiter 2017). The signs and symptoms can persist for multiple weeks following the removal of mites (Vacante and Kreiter 2017).


The optimal conditions for broad mite development are moderate temperatures (77F), high humidity (90-100%), and low light intensity (Heinz et al. 2004; Vacante and Kreiter 2017). Broad mites are normally active throughout the year in greenhouse situations, with reproduction slowing in cooler months (Vacante and Kreiter 2017). Males deliver dormant females to new growth (Gerson and Weintraub 2007; Vacante and Kreiter 2017). Females oviposit approximately 25-50 eggs during their 10-11 day lifespan within the hollows of the lower leaf surface, and on young fruit (Zhang 2003; Vacante and Kreiter 2017). Fertilized eggs produce females, while unfertilized eggs produce males (Vacante and Kreiter 2017). The emerging stage is called a larva and lasts for one day (Vacante and Kreiter 2017). It takes approximately four more days until they develop into adults (Vacante and Kreiter 2017). They can disperse to other plants and plant parts by walking, wind, human transport, and by latching onto the legs of whiteflies (Gerson and Weintraub 2007; Weintraub et al. 2017; Zhang 2003).


Keep a close eye on plant species that are likely to be attacked by broad mites. Greenhouse plants that are “magnets” for broad mites include: Zonal geraniums, New Guinea impatiens, thunbergia, torenia, verbena, rieger begonias, scaevola, angel wing begonia, ivy geranium, and buddleia (Lindberg 2017a). Examine the undersurfaces of young leaves, crevices between leaves and stems near apical growth and flower buds (Zhang 2003) for their presence. Use a 20x hand lens or microscope (UCONN IPM 2020). Damage is generally not noticeable until 20-30 days after the initial infestation and the mites have likely moved onto neighboring plants at this point, so scouting efforts should focus on surrounding vegetation (Lindberg 2017b).


Which predatory mite to apply will depend on the host plant, environmental conditions, and other biocontrols being used. Predators of tarsonemid mites include Neoseiulus cucumeris, Neoseiulus californicus, and Amblyseius swirskii (Heinz et al. 2004; Weintraub et al. 2017). Preventative releases of predatory mites should be used when you have plants that are susceptible or have a history of broad mites (Jandricic 2015).

Neoseiulus cucumeris will feed on pollen, thrips, and other small mites in addition to broad mites (Weintraub et al. 2017). They do not establish well on tomatoes but will establish on sweet peppers when pollen and prey are present, and on cucumber when prey is present (Weintraub et al. 2017). On greenhouse peppers, good broad mite control was achieved by releasing 600 N. cucumeris on each or every other plant (Gerson and Weintraub 2007). Neoseiulus cucumeris performs as well as A. swirskii during winter months in temperate greenhouses and may be the desired choice in winter because of its lower price (Buitenhuis et al. 2015).

Amblyseius swirskii is an aggressive generalist predator of broad mites, tomato russet mites, whiteflies, and thrips (Buitenhuis et al. 2015; Weintraub et al. 2017). Additionally, they feed on pollen and applications of supplemental food can enhance their success (Gobin et al. 2017). In a greenhouse trial on Rhododendron simsii, A. swirskii achieved better control of broad mites than repeated applications of abamectin (Gobin et al. 2017). In greenhouse sweet pepper, good control was obtained by releasing the mites at rates of 5-10 per square foot (Gerson and Weintraub 2007). Releases of 63 mites per plant effectively controlled broad mites in field-grown peppers and eggplants (Stansley and Castillo 2013). Avoid the use of A. swirskii if you are also using Aphidoletes aphidimyza for aphids. They are known to devour the eggs of A. aphidimyza and can disrupt aphid control (Messelink et al. 2011).

Neoseiulus californicus are generalist predators with a preference for Tetranychus spp. mites (Zhang 2004). They are able to tolerate lower humidity and higher temperature than the last two mite species. Greenhouse releases of one predator for every 5-15 prey considerably reduced broad mite densities on limes for weeks after the initial release. Similar results were obtained on field-grown limes during the moderate winter-spring conditions of Florida. Neoseiulus californicus could not keep up with a broad mite population boom during the hot and humid summer-fall (Phytoseiidae 2011). Neoseiulus californicus can be an excellent choice if you also have a history of spider mites.


Broad mites are excellent at hiding in curly leaves and unexposed areas, making whole-plant coverage with pesticide sprays difficult (Zhang 2004), which is why preventative releases of predatory mites are so important. However, there are some conditions in which mite predators are not able to keep up with the population growth of broad mites, and biorational pesticides should be used. Dips of mineral oil can be used to clean up incoming plants or cuttings, and entomopathogenic fungi may be sprayed in propagation domes where the humidity is high and conducive to their germination. For extreme infestations, knockdowns with sulfur products may be warranted. If that is the case, do not combine sulfur with oils. Sulfur and oil products are highly incompatible and will burn your plants when used together.


If there is a small number of infested plants, they must be bagged and eliminated before any further spread (Heinz et al. 2004). Because of the wide host range of broad mites, controlling weeds inside and outside of greenhouse structures might also reduce the overall pest abundance and carryover from previous crops (Vacante and Kreiter 2017). Always inspect incoming plant material to ensure that it is free of pests. Dipping the foliage of cuttings in a pesticide can help lessen the incoming pest load (Vacante and Kreiter 2017). Host plant resistance has not been thoroughly investigated for broad mites, but in general healthier plants are able to cope better with feeding damage. Soil drenches of beneficial microbes have induced foliar resistance against different pests and should be investigated for broad mites.


Author: Alec Blume, 2020.



Buitenhuis R, Murphy G, Shipp L, Scott-Dupree C. Amblyseius swirskii in greenhouse production systems: a floricultural perspective. Exp Appl Acarol. 2015;65(4):451-464. doi:10.1007/s10493-014-9869-9


Gerson U, Weintraub PG. Mites for the control of pests in protected cultivation. Pest Manag Sci. 2007;63(7):658-676. doi:10.1002/ps.1380


Gobin B, Pauwels E, Mechant E, Audenaert J. Integrated control of broad mites in ornamental plants under variable greenhouse conditions. IOBC-WPRS Bulletin 2017;124:125-130.


Heinz KM, Driesche RV, Parrella MP. Biocontrol in Protected Culture. Ball Pub.; 2004.


IPM Scouting and Decision Making. UCONN IPM website. Accessed April 12, 2020.


Jandricic S. Banishing Broad Mite. OnFloriculture blog website. June 2, 2015. Accessed April 12, 2020.


Lindberg, H. Attention scouts: Crops that are insect “magnets” in the greenhouse. MSU Extension website February 2, 2017. Accessed April 12, 2020.


Messelink GJ, Bloemhard CMJ, Cortes JA, Sabelis MW, Janssen A. Hyperpredation by generalist predatory mites disrupts biological control of aphids by the aphidophagous gall midge Aphidoletes aphidimyza. Biological Control. 2011;57:246-252.


Phytoseiidae. In: Mites (Acari) for Pest Control. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2007:173-218. doi:10.1002/9780470750995.ch26


Stansly PA, Castillo JA. Control of Broad Mites, Spider Mites, and Whiteflies using Predaceous Mites in Open-field Pepper and Eggplant. Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Florida State Horticultural Society.  2013;122:253-257.


Vacante V, Kreiter S. Handbook of Pest Management in Organic Farming. CABI; 2017.


Weintraub PG, Recht E, Mondaca LL, Harari AR, Diaz BM, Bennison J. Arthropod Pest Management in Organic Vegetable Greenhouses. Godfrey L, Siebert MW, eds. Journal of Integrated Pest Management. 2017;8(1). doi:10.1093/jipm/pmx021


Zhang ZQ. Mites of Greenhouses: Identification, Biology and Control. CABI; 2003.

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Moment Lenses Now Available Through Our Referral Link!

Moment Lenses Now Available Through Our Referral Link!
At Sound Horticulture, we use Moment lenses to scout for pests on our clients crops. We have found that the ease of use and image clarity puts moment lenses a step above the competition. The lenses require the moment case and they are available for many popular smartphones. Once you have the case it is as simple as a quarter turn to mount the lens. Click here to check out Moment's offerings!  Continue reading

Invasive Alert!: Emerald Ash Borer

Invasive Alert!: Emerald Ash Borer

Keep an eye out for the Emerald Ash Borer, Agrilus planipennis. It has been detected in 24 states, including our state of Washington, and parts of Eastern Canada. Civic involvement in pest ID and entomology is a powerful thing. Please inspect your local trees. 

In Washington, our native "Oregon Ash" Fraxinus latifolia is of particular concern. Additionally white ash (F. americana) and green ash (F. pennsylvanica) are common targets as they are often planted as ornamental shade trees. If you suspect EAB, please call 1-800-443-6684.

See this link for more information regarding ID, and what you can do. 

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Beneficial Entomopathogenic Nematodes for Pest Control

Beneficial Entomopathogenic Nematodes for Pest Control

It's commonly known that there are pathogenic nematodes which can cause damage to plants, but did you know that there are species of nematodes which are actually used to control pests? We refer to these beneficial nematodes as entomopathogenic nematodes. We like to think of beneficial nematodes as a fantastic starting place for those new to biocontrol. Why? Because they truly work so well, AND they are compatible with many pesticides and fungicides. In other words, even conventional growers can seamlessly integrate nematodes into their operation without forfeiting the use of various conventional pesticides they may be using in their IPM program. Sound too good to be true? We know these little roundworms are extremely tough and efficacious. As an example, nematodes can actually freeze their metabolism in the absence of adequate food or oxygen, but continue to survive until circumstances improve. This state is called "cryptobiosis". Additionally, after the 1981 Columbia space shuttle disaster, nematodes were the only known survivors.

When you are considering which nematodes to purchase, consider not only the correct speci you need to control the problematic pest at hand, but also the production method. Nematodes produced "in vivo" tend to yield a very high numbers of infective juveniles which are largely responsible for the killing of pests. This production method utilizes wax worm cadavers to breed healthy nematodes, which contain a very high level of infective bacteria (see the featured diagram of the life cycle). In vivo nematodes also requires a much lower application rate per sq. ft. of soil when compared with "in vitro" nematodes. 

Our Sierra nematodes are produced in vivo and yield exceptional results for our customers. For more information about Sierra nematode production, species available, and some guidelines for speci and pest pairing, refer to this link or feel free to contact us directly for more information.


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Watch Your Feet!

Watch Your Feet!

When it comes to your IPM program, are you employing all the stops? Are you adequately considering these components of your IPM program?


1)Removing debris (cultural control)- fungal pathogens (i.e. botrytis).

2)Properly sanitizing surfaces, pots, soil, and tools.

3)Stopping entry and vectoring at the door!


Proper sanitation is imperative for maintaining a good integrated pest and disease management program and stopping pests “at the door” should be the first line of defense. Within the larger industry, there are an array of needs in the sanitation department. Without being able to touch on them all, let’s talk about your feet! As we approach fall weather, pests are certainly looking to hitch a ride into indoor environments and greenhouses. That said, vectoring pests in and out of various facilities, greenhouses, or rooms, is a potential problem all season long. How are your growers and employees moving through the facility? Avoid allowing growers to work in contaminated areas and then move to propagation later in the day. Consider supplying a change of clothes and even crocs or boots for employees. 

We work to stay abreast of all the updates and changes in the industry and in biocontrol and share that information with all of you. That said, some trusted principles and products have not changed for decades and remain trusted industry standards.

To assist with this continued concern, we made have ordered in products to make it easy for our customers. Whether you are moving from stock to finishing areas, or from outdoors to indoors, having a sanitation mat is critical for vectoring reduction. For fall, we are combining the long-standing industry sanitation product, Green Shield, with the sanitation mats as a package deal. We don’t want you to call us in crisis!

For $147 you can receive 1 gallon of Green Shield with our favorite type of sanitation mat.

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Sound Hort's Sounding Board

Sound Hort's Sounding Board

We’ve seen so many changes over the last couple years, within our business as well as the many varied sectors of organic agriculture, conventional agriculture, and larger horticultural industries. The use of biocontrol is expanding with each year, and with that, our business has been growing. In fact, we just moved to a larger facility to accommodate additional warehousing of biological products and to expand the capacity of our shipping facility. Last year, we started our ecommerce online store to accommodate customers who prefer to shop online. As an extension of that, we are working to keep our blog updated with pertinent information for all of you working to continually improve and learn. We pride ourselves in our customer service and go out of our way to host workshops, make ourselves available to customers, and to openly share pertinent information to all of you who are trying shore up your pest management.

It’s estimated that 40% of the world’s food production is lost each year due to pest and diseases related failure. Our goal is to provide tactics and products in order to properly manage pests, while remaining environmentally conscious. Additionally, we encourage growers to develop natural habitats for hosting beneficial populations. We recognize that the growth we are experiencing is an industry-wide and environmental success. Pest resistance to conventional chemicals is not going away, while the domestic and international tightening of chemical regulation is on the rise. As growers experience the limitations of chemicals, they are now leaning on biological controls and biologically based practices. Meanwhile, consumers are asking that their products be produced using clean practices, whether it be ornamental crops, food crops, herbs, cannabis, or the plant based inputs of their supplements…EVERYTHING! We find this grassroots movement extremely exciting and encouraging!

So welcome to the green side! We are here to assist.

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