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Silverleaf whitefly parasite

Eretmocerus hayati

Eretmocerus hayati adult male wasp

Eretmocerus is an important genus of tiny yellow wasps that are natural parasites of several key pests. E hayati is adapted to lay its eggs into the very damaging introduced pest silverleaf whitefly. Bugs for Bugs is proud to be collaborating with Biomites in a joint venture project to make this exciting new biological control product available as part of our ongoing commitment to helping Australian farmers produce high quality food in a sustainable way. This project was made possible following the results of excellent research input from CSIRO and DAFF Qld.

Target pests

Silverleaf whitefly

Silverleaf whitefly

Bemisia tabaci (biotype b)

This damaging pest has moved rapidly around the world. It feeds on a very wide range of crops including cotton, vegetables and legumes. Vegetable hosts include melon, zucchini, tomato, lettuce and eggplant. Silverleaf whitefly can downgrade fruit and vegetables by the production of a sticky secretion called honeydew which, in turn, leads to sooty mould. In large numbers it will also cause a reduction in yield and quality. Importantly this pest is known to  Silverleaf whitefly on eggplant transmit several virus diseases that can be debilitating to crops.

 

Suitable crops/ environments

Beneficial insects, especially tiny wasps, prefer a protected environment. A crop that has good foliage development, is well irrigated and free from pesticide residue and dust is best.

 

E hayati vial with wasps emerging

Recommended release rates

Field Crops

Make 5 releases of 3,000 wasps (10 vials) per hectare. The first releases should commence early in the crop or at the fist sign of silverleaf whitefly. Release at intervals of 2-3 weeks depending on the crop cycle, insect pressure and prior history. Further releases may be required following adverse conditions or during periods of intense whitefly activity.

Greenhouses

Make at least 4 releases of 2-3 wasps per square metre at intervals of 7 days. Aim to start releases at the very first sign of whitefly activity. If whitefly is already active in the crop higher release rates may be required. Continue making releases until control is achieved or parasitism rates reach 80%.

Adult wasps emerge to seek out whitefly nymphs

Releasing the parasites

Eretmocerus hayati are supplied in small plastic vials with a cotton plug insert. Wait until several wasps are visible inside the vials before releasing into the crop. They can be placed in the foliage by locating the vial cap in a leaf petiole, a tie wire or similar. Remove the cotton plug to allow the wasps to emerge.

Place the vials uniformly throughout the crop at a rate of 10 vials per hectare.

Watch for ant activity as aggressive ant populations can interfere with wasp establishment. Ants may need to be controlled if this is the case.

 

Female adult hayati wasp

After release

It is not easy to find the adult wasp parasites after release. However with experience it is possible to assess the levels of parasitism by examining the whitefly nymphs (immature stages) with a handlens or microscope. Contact us for more information on how to do this.

Eretmocerus hayati pupa

Area wide management

Silverleaf whitefly is a highly mobile pest that moves quickly through entire production areas. It is an excellent target for an area wide management approach. If growers across an entire production area can co-operate to release E. hayati strategically, best results will be achieved. Current research is focussed on improving the control of this difficult pest with an area wide management approach.

 

Chemical use

Download this QDPI file for more informaion about Parasites of SLWSilverleaf whitefly has a history of rapidly developing resistance to pesticides. Pesticides may be useful tools but they should only be used as a last resort and with a clear understanding of their efficacy, impact on beneficial insects and the need to conserve them for the future. Overuse of pesticides is generally counter-productive especially with difficult pests such as silverleaf whitefly. Hayati are very effective parasites but they are delicate organisms and are easily harmed by pesticides. Nutritional sprays, copper fungicides and some miticides are relatively safe. No synthetic pyrethroids should ever be used. Organophosphate and some carbamate insecticides are toxic and must also be avoided if at all possible. New generation pesticides are increasingly available however they are also prone to resistance development. Therefore should only be applied with caution to conserve them for the future. An IPM consultant should be able to give you advice on compatible materials.More about silverleaf whitefly (NSW DPI)

 

Additional links

CSIRO

DAFF Qld

University of California (Riverside)

Wikipedia

Agriculture and Food WA

Eretmocerus eremicus (Cornell Uni) a closely related species

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