As promised, the long awaited follow up to last month’s newsletter.  A brief update on the two insect related meetings I attended recently. 

Biocontrols West Conference, March 14 - 15 in Portland, Or.  

This was the first time that I have had a chance to attend this meeting, and it was focused on the use of Biostimulants in agriculture that can boost plant growth along with the use of Biological Control Agents for pest management.

 The conventional wisdom in regards to Biostimulants, is that they will make the plants stronger by activating some sort of response allowing them to fight off infections or even insect damage.   There are currently many choices and many of them claim to be the best, so make sure you do your research and ask the tough questions when choosing a product.  They are NOT all created equal.  Many of these products are OMRI certified, which can be a good choice for many organic growers. We do have some experience and may be able to provide some insight.   

The use of Biological Control Agents to aid in pest management has been used for years in the valley.  Many of you have utilized beneficial insects like lady beetles, stethorus beetles, green lacewings, trichogramma wasps, and even predator mites to aid in pest control.  Beneficial insects can be generalist predators, feeding on a wide array of pests to the more specialized predators that tend to be more particular with what they feed on.   As with the above Biostimulants, it is very important to know your pest and the beneficial you need for managing that pest.  Do your research and ask questions as most of the insectaries are staffed by very knowledgeable individuals.    *Beneficial insects and predator mites will typically NOT 100% clean up a pest population as that would eliminate their food source, but they can help manage an already low population.  The key to using beneficial insects is to start early before there is an infestation, which allows for their population to increase in response to the pests. 

Entomological Society of America (ESA) Pacific Branch Meeting, March 31 – April 3 in San Diego, Ca.

The ESA is a place for university researchers, undergrads, master students and PhD students to share their work (and get some sun in San Diego).  The projects shared covered a wide range of entomology, of which many were agriculture related and some human related.  This meeting was overloaded with information with not enough time to take it all in, but I tried to focus on attending the meetings that are going to be directly related to my work in pest management in agriculture. 

Of interest is the ESA’s recent response to recent published studies that report significant decreases in worldwide insect populations.    

“On the Fate of insects, Most Troubling is How Much is Still Unknown” 

Why do we attend meetings?

As crop consultants in an ever changing world it is important to stay informed on the many new innovative ideas and products available.  This allows us to provide quality evaluations and data that in turn aids growers in their farming practices.  This follows our company motto: “Measuring Crop Needs for Greater Profits.” 

Lisa Brain, Entomologist