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  BioControl Beat 
                                                Winter 2008

The Bug Farm Blog

Spolight on:
Shangri La Botanical Garden
Hurricane Ike's floodwaters destroyed the greenhouses and closed the Gulf Coast public gardens on September 27. They use non-toxic pest control methods consistent with their environmental and insect conservation goals. The bugfarm blog has a post about the dilemma as the staff prepared for Ike.

Vanishing Bees
"Some believe that honeybee die-off is an indictment of the way we do agriculture - too much pesticide sprayed on more and more land..."

Kyra Goes West
"I wound up at Rincon-Vitova rather serendipitously; I was in my last year (last 3 weeks to be exact) of my undergraduate degree..."


Seasonal Links

ATTRA Native Bees
discusses using  bees as pollinators, how to attract wild bees, list of suppliers.
Insecta-Flora Low's goldfields decorate California's largest green roof.

Texas Naturalist
Johnny jump ups on habitat plant list in Central Texas.

Wild Farm Alliance
Integrating wild margins and agricultural easements; value of biodiversity for organic.

Hedgerows for California Agriculture
How to choose and care for regionally appropriate plants that attract beneficial insects and prevent erosion.  

Questions?  Comments?  Suggestions?  We'd love to hear what you have to say about our newsletter. 

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The Rincon-Vitova team greets you with its fall newsletter! 

In this issue:
     The Bug Farm Blog
     Fall Mite Clean Up
     Lacewing Marathoners
     Enhancing Diversity with Insecta-Flora Low
     Fungus Gnats Neutralized by Gnatrol

The Bug Farm Blog

We've started a blog at We write about biological pest control--perspectives, questions, updates, stories, and fun from the bug farm staff. AND you, the reader, can participate with your insights, experiences and questions.

 Fall Mite Clean Up

Release Hypoaspis in greenhouses now to kill over wintering two-spotted spider mites. The better the clean up in fall, the less severe the spider mites will be in spring. During spring and summer, use proactive releases of Phytoseiulus persimilis or Neoseiulus fallacis so that spider mites do not become a problem. However, an important part of cost-effective prevention is to put Hypoaspis to work in fall before the cool, short days trigger spider mite females to lay overwintering eggs and die.
Once plant debris is removed and spider mites turn red and move into hiding, they are untouchable by predators until spring. They hibernate in cracks around the floor and roof. Remove such over-wintering sites as pots and covers. Use soapy water with orange oil to clean benches and floors and spray purlins and roof supports with horticultural oil to kill mite eggs.
For more Info, check out our Spider Mite Bulletin.
Lacewing Marathoners
An efficient green lacewing larva might consume 350 aphids, 11,200 spider mites or 3,780 scale crawlers!  They are good at cleaning up eggs and young larvae of many beetles and caterpillars, mealybugs, whiteflies, thrips, leafhoppers and more without wasting time eating the whole thing. They drink the juice and toss away the exoskeleton terminating the prey before moving on.  They compete in endurance as well, walking seven miles as larvae. Launch these hungry long-distance runners in pest hotspots.

To sustain these general predators, first control ants by baiting their runs or turn mounds inside out. Then cultivate habitat for beneficials. Corn stalks and sunflowers when shaken at dusk in the peak of bloom will send lacewing fluttering overhead. Borders of alfalfa and oilseed Brassicas, Beneficial Blend or Insecta-Flora seed mixes support lacewing and other natural enemies.

For more info, check out our Lacewing Bulletin
Enhancing Farms and Gardens with Insecta-Flora Low
Insecta-Flora interplanting
Insecta-Flora is a flower seed blend that blooms through the seasons and years providing habitat for beneficial insects. Clovers and alfalfa are great habitat plants, but sometimes the showy look of Insecta-Flora containing less grass and legumes is preferred to the ever-popular and less expensive Beneficial Blend.  Insecta Flora comes in Low (up to a foot high), Standard, and High (3 foot high).  The Low mix provides nitrogen-fixing and erosion control as well as habitat.

Smaller beneficial insects will fly a couple hundred feet to an island of flowers that keep them going. Enhancing an upwind vineyard border yields a beneficial welcoming committee for invading pests. Covering bare ground with beneficial habitat mixes cuts heat reflection and dust to prevent spider mite problems. Mow or weed-whip half at a time and then the other half a few weeks later to concentrate the beneficials without driving them away. Wait until the flowers set to encourage reseeding.

Here is our
Insecta-Flora Bulletin in pdf.
 Fungus Gnats Neutralized

Gnatrol is a microbial insecticide that attacks the maggots of fungus gnats, shore flies, and other flies in the soil. The active ingredient Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) bacteria doesn't kill the flying adults; the maggots must eat it. Hydroponic growers like Gnatrol's cost-effective control of fungus gnats. Gnatrol WDG (water dispersible granules) is OMRI listed for organic, and pending CA EPA approval. The liquid comes in 2.5 gallon jugs and the graunles in 16 lb pails.

For more info, check out our Gnatrol bulletin.
PO Box 1555, Ventura, CA 93002   
Phone: 800.248.2847, 805.643.5407    Fax: 805.643.6267