Tagged: control

Ladybug pest control

Ladybugs – Your best ally in the fight with aphids!

Ladybug

Ladybugs –

 Let’s learn a little bit about these pest eaters. Ladybugs have many names. Such as lady beetle, Asian lady beetle, multicolored Asian lady beetle, ladybird and many more. They are actually not bugs but are beetles. Ladybird Beetle is the correct name but I still like “ladybug” There are about 5,000 species of ladybugs worldwide, only 400 are native to North America. The convergent lady beetle is the most common species.

Ladybugs are widely used as a form of natural pest control. Aphids seem to be the top food choice for them but they also eat scale insects, mealy bugs, mites, white fly and other soft insects. A fully grown hungry ladybug can eat 50 aphids a day! They could eat 5,000 aphids in their lifetime in both larvae and adult stages.

 

LadybugsAphids-

Aphids are the most common garden pest insect and they feed on almost every type of plant. There are many different species of aphids but they all seem to have the same goal in mind… destroying you’re garden! They feed in colonies which is why they are so destructive and fast.

Signs of aphids are dried and colorless leaves and curled leaf tips. Aphids usually can be found on the underside of leaves and close to the top where the most nutrients can be sucked from the plant. They are savage little things and need to be dealt with as fast as possible.

LadybugsPest control-

Here at our Kent, WA. Sunglo office and warehouse we have a few greenhouses on display and like to grow plants and veggies ourselves, so we take advantage of the opportunity by growing a few things here and there. We bought a few herb plants from a home and garden depot only to find aphids on them!

We decided to try ladybugs for pest control. And boy let me tell you… it was awesome! We were able to purchase 1500 bugs online and they arrived within 5 days, let them free in our small lean-to greenhouse and within 15 minutes almost every aphid had disappeared! Overall I would 100% recommend ladybugs to get rid you of your pest nuisance! They are cute, inexpensive and best of all non-toxic! We freed most of them by keeping the doors wide open but a few are still around, stalking their next aphid meal.

Ladybugs

To learn about another common pest; thrips – click here.

Greenhouse Heaters – Which One Is Right For You?

Greenhouse HeaterGreenhouse heaters. Electric, natural gas, propane and many more. But which heater is right for your greenhouse? How do you find out? This is where BTU’s (British thermal units) come in. To find the best heater for your greenhouse you must know the number of BTU’s required. And I am going to show you how to determine it!

Here are a few simple steps to find your BTU requirement.

 

  • STEP 1

You need to know the surface area of your greenhouse. This is not simply multiplying the length and width. You must calculate the area of each wall and each ceiling panel then add them all together. If you have a Sunglo greenhouse click here for Sunglo’s Surface Area Guide post.

  • STEP 2

Next you need to find out the average winter temperature (outside) in your area. This is where the internet comes in handy. But I made it easy for you > Click here to view a list of average temperatures in the U.S.

  • STEP 3

Now what temperature do you want to keep your greenhouse at in the winter? This depends on the plants you are growing. You should be able to find plant temperatures online. But a common minimum temperature for over wintering is 50°F.

  • STEP 4

The next step is finding your greenhouse’s U-Value or Heat Transfer Coefficient. This is determined by the material your greenhouse is made of. For a Sunglo greenhouse we use a U-Value of 0.75. To find your specific materials U-Value > Click here for a general list.

  •  STEP 5

Now that you have completed the first 4 steps you should have –

  1. Your greenhouse surface area
  2. Average winter temperature
  3. Desired greenhouse temperature for the winter months
  4. Your greenhouse material U-Value

Now we can find our required BTU’s!

And here is the formula –

  • Desired greenhouse winter temp – Average winter temp outside  = Temp differential
  • Surface area × temp differential × U-Value = Required BTU

For example:

My greenhouse surface area is 744

My average winter temp is 20°F

Desired greenhouse winter temp is 50°F

Sunglo acrylic U-Value is 0.75

  • 50° − 20° = 30° (Temp differential)
  • 744 (surface area) × 30 (temp differential) × 0.75 (U-value) = 16,740 BTU’s

Now you can shop for a heater that provides at least 16,740 BTU’s!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greenhouse EHow

As the cold weather approaches, the thought of having to wait till spring to start gardening again makes buying a greenhouse very attractive at this time of year. We have certainly been busy filling orders lately and I wanted to share one of my favorite sites with all our new customers.

The informative resources on Ehow are seemingly endless with articles on nearly everything a gardener could ever wish to learn about. The link below is to one such article that outlines some important things to consider when starting a new greenhouse.

How to Start Your Own Greenhouse

Most of us here are also proud Sunglo owners and would never refuse an opportunity to share our experiences with others. I implore you to give us a call toll free whether you are a past customer wishing to swap stories or a future customer seeking more information.

 

Overwintering in the Greenhouse

greenhouse snow loadOne of the things I enjoy most about spring is planning out my gardens for the season. However, it also used to be one of things I dreaded as I began to tally up the cost of buying new plants every year. Having a greenhouse has allowed me to overwinter all of my beloved container plantings, and some of my garden perennials that cannot survive the winters here in the northwest. I have put a great deal of time into designing and caring for the container arrangements around my house, and now I do not have to park in the driveway during the winter while I store them in the garage.

pot in potLast year I started using a pot in pot system where I buried larger pots in the garden that the perennials’ pots can fit into. This makes pulling them in the fall much less labor intensive and then in the spring I just put them back into their prearranged spot and cover both pots over with mulch. This has also allowed me to incorporate rare plants that are not recommended for my hardiness zone into my landscape. I know pride is a sin, but it is always satisfying when someone says, “How did you get that to survive? I tried and it didn’t make it through the first winter.”

Then I proceed to tell them about how my greenhouse has allowed me to really take my gardening to the next level. I opted to get the all season package that included a heater, motorized intake shutter, exhaust fan, and all the thermostats to automatically control them at the temperatures I set. To ice the cake it also came with a wireless weather station that allows me to monitor the temperature and humidity of the greenhouse from my kitchen. All I have to do is check periodically to make sure the pots do not get bone dry and the climate controls do the rest. I do not have to worry about pesky rodents, freezing, fluctuations in soil temperature, or dessication from being exposed to cold dry air because my plants are protected within the greenhouse.

Sunglo in AlaskaThere are only a couple of things to keep in mind when you set out to overwinter your plants in a greenhouse. In the early fall, I gradually reduce watering and fertilization and allow the plants to harden off outside until just before the first frost.This puts them into a state of dormancy and keeping the greenhouse temperatures between 45° and 55° F throughout the winter prevents them from coming out of it prematurely.This is very important because any undesired growth at such low temperatures will more than likely be weak and therefore highly susceptible to various infestations.

overwinter greenhouseThis is where a Sunglo greenhouse truly outperforms the competition. The exhaust fan, motorized intake shutter, and heater, all controlled by individual thermostats, ensure that the temperatures stay within the desired range. Most hobbyist greenhouses on the market use a paraffin wax piston to automatically open a vent of some sort. It is impossible for this type of passive ventilation system to maintain temperatures between a specified range.

sunglo snow loadDuring dormancy water uptake is dramatically reduced, but you must be careful not to let the soil get to dry. Just a slight dampness to the touch is sufficient. I considered installing a drip watering system on an irrigation timer this year, but decided against it. Colder temperatures and overly wet soil can spell certain doom for roots and the plants that depend on them. Instead I will continue to check them periodically and I suspect they appreciate the company.

overwintered plantsAs spring approaches I raise the temperature to between 55° and 65° F and gradually increase it from there. Some people prefer to keep the temperatures in that range until they move their plants out of the greenhouse to ensure they are hardened off. I have found that a strong oscillating fan and cooler night temperatures promotes strong enough growth for outdoor conditions. I also wait until I am absolutely certain there will be no more frost before I move anything out into the garden. I resume regular watering and begin an incremental fertilization schedule starting at half strength. By sometime in March I have the temperatures high enough to start spending some quality time in the greenhouse again and begin to germinate seeds, pot up the dormant cuttings I have taken over the winter, and get back into the business of what I love most.

I still enjoy planning out my gardens every spring, but with most of my plants all ready to go I now marvel at how much money I save. The question I am most asked is, “Isn’t the cost of heating the greenhouse throughout the winter more than the plants are worth?”  To which I always inwardly ask, “How do you put a value on keeping that which you love so much alive?” But in all honesty, being as serious a gardener as I am,  the unrivaled insulation of my Sunglo’s dual pane design keeps my energy costs well below what I used to spend on plant material every year. If you are interested in taking your gardening to the next level or have more questions related to overwintering please give us a call.

Building Your Greenhouse

 

 greenhouse contstruction

http://youtu.be/e50sLNdaRiU

Thrips: Know thy Enemy

Thrip AdultToday’s post takes a closer look at and offers some suggestions for controlling one of the most widespread and detrimental species of thrips – Western Flower Thrips. Sometimes, when we strive to create the perfect growing environment for our plants we provide an optimal habitat for some nasty pests. Thrips thrive in warm environments protected from harsh outdoor conditions and their illusive nature can make them difficult to spot before the damage is done. Identifying the signs early and acting accordingly is the key to thrip control. The information below is a brief outline to aid you in doing so.

Description
Adult WFT are less that 2 mm long.  The female adult ranges in color from light yellow to dark brown.  Males are slightly smaller and are light yellow in color.  Both have slender cylindrical bodies and two sets of clear, nearly veinless, narrow wings that have dark, hairy, fringes.  The wings also have two complete rows of setae.  The larvae are tubular shaped, less than 1 mm long and are translucent white to yellow in color.  They resemble the adults but do not have wings until the third instar.

Life Cycle
The annual WFT life cycle varies depending on environmental conditions.  In cold climates such as the Northern U.S. they cannot over winter outdoors.  In slightly milder climates they can over winter in weed hosts, plant debris, and soil.  In a greenhouse setting their life cycle is continuous and overlapping.  It does however consist of these five main stages regardless of environment: egg, two larval instars, prepupa and pupa instars, and finally adult.
The population increase and time required for development of each generation is highly dependent on environmental conditions and the nutrient levels of the host plant.  The following account is based on an average host and temperatures between 68 and 98 degrees F.  The female can lay between 130 and 230 eggs.  The eggs then hatch in 2 to 4 days.  During both instars of the larval stage the larvae feed on plant material and then enter the non – feeding prepupal stage after 3 to 6 days.  The pupal stage is also non – feeding and lasts for 1 to 3 days.  The adult then emerges and can feed and reproduce for a subsequent 30 to 35 days.

Petal DiscolorationDamage
WFT damage is caused by feeding and oviposition, as well as indirectly through virus transmission.  The female’s ovipositor has two serrated blades that are used to cut through the plant epidermis and deposit eggs into the tissue.  This can cause scars on the leaves and fruit of some crops and decrease their economic value.  Feeding damage is caused by both the larvae and adult thrips and can occur on fruit, flowers, flower buds, leaves, and leaf buds.  WFT use their modified mouthparts to puncture the plant epidermis, inject saliva, and siphon out the cell contents.  The damaged plant cells collapse, resulting in distorted growth, silver patches, and scars on expanded leaves.  Flower petal damage can appear as dark streaks in lighter flowers and lighter streaks in those of a darker color.  Feeding on the leaf or flower buds can cause them to abort, and when they do grow they can exhibit distorted growth.  This can make diagnosing thrip problems difficult because the symptoms will not be evident until the bud opens.
Western flower thrips are also notorious for being the primary vector of viruses such as tomato spotted wilt (TSWV) and impatiens necrotic spot (INSV).  Adult thrips cannot acquire the virus and it is not passed on to offspring so infection occurs during the larvae phase as a result of feeding on infected plant tissue for about thirty minutes.  After three to eighteen days the virus can be passed on when the insect feeds for only five to ten minutes on another host.  Thrips retain the infection until death and the concentration of the virus increases as it replicates throughout the vector’s lifetime.  The virus was historically common in the western and southwestern United States, but began spreading rapidly in the 1970 and ‘80s with the spread of western flower thrips.

Control

  • Mechanical

As with any integrated pest management strategy a thorough monitoring and identification system is the first priority.  Yellow and blue sticky traps attract thrips and can be used to reduce and monitor pest populations.  Exclusion acts as a first defense against thrips.  All plant material being brought into the greenhouse should be thoroughly inspected before hand.  Production areas should be sealed tight and limited to authorized personnel.  This can be achieved by the use of door seals and thrip preventive netting over all areas where external air is allowed to enter the greenhouse.

  • Cultural

Because of the wide host range of WTF it is important to remove all weeds both inside and in close proximity to the greenhouse.  These serve as safe harbor for thrips and viruses when a non – susceptible crop is being grown.  If the weed removal is thorough then alternating between susceptible and non – susceptible crops can also prevent pest problems.  A layer of hydrated lime thick enough to cover the soil on the greenhouse floor can prevent algae, weeds, and insects.  Some growers also remove all plant material between crops for a period of seven days to allow adults to emerge from the pupal stage and then kill them with insecticides or elevated temperatures.  A continuous temperature of 102 degrees F for two days will kill the adults.

  • Biological

Predacious minute pirate bugs, mirids, and mites have all been used to control WFT populations as well as fungi.  The minute pirate bugs and the predacious mites both go into diapause under short day conditions and so have not been as affective in the winter.  However, both have proven to be able to derive enough nutrients for development from WTF alone.  The mites do best on plants that provide a surplus of pollen for diet supplementation in order to reach a sufficient control population faster.  The time it takes for all three predator populations to establish themselves and increase to an effective control level is the main limiting factor.  The rapid development and proliferation of WFT usually exceeds that of these predators in the case of most crops.  Fungi such as Beauveria bassiana and Verticillium lecanii have also been used to develop registered biological controls.  The spores infect the pest through contact with its cuticle and are not limited by environmental conditions or the crop being grown.

  • Chemical

WFT are commonly controlled with endosulfan, chlorpyrifos, bendiocarb, and synthetic pyrethrinoids, but their spread has, in a way, been aided by pesticides.  They have the ability to quickly develop a resistance, and when native varieties of thrips and predators are eliminated WFT face less competition and thrive in the new areas.  If a chemical control is going to be used it is recommended that the pesticide class be rotated every generation (about 14 days) to help prevent pesticide resistance development.  The pupa and eggs are also unaffected by sprays so it is important that the application program lasts long enough to eliminate emerging larvae and adults.