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How can I control chilli thrips on blueberries in central Florida?

Answer: The first strategy in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, especially in organic production, is to harness the natural enemies that occur in the local agroecosystem. This could be achieved by providing habitat with native flowering plants that provide pollen, nectar, and shelter to predators, parasites, and pollinators. These habitats could be in form of hedgerows or surrounding native landscape with annual and perennial plants. Beneficial insects commonly seen in Florida include the following:

• Lady Beetles, which come in many colors beside the orange with black spots.
• Lacewings, both green and brown. Larvae are carnivorous, preying on soft body insects and eggs. Adult green lacewing feed on pollen and nectar. Adult brown lacewing are carnivorous.
• Syrphid fly adults are pollen/nectar feeders where the larvae eat insects especially aphids.
• Predatory Gall Midges are small and overlooked but feed on aphids, whitefly, thrips, and mites.
• Bigeyed bugs prey on eggs, thrips, caterpillars and mites.
• Minute Pirate bugs feed on psocids, leafhoppers, mites, and thrips.
• Parasitic wasps are tiny and parasitize eggs and host insects.
• Parasitic flies
• Predatory mites like Neoseiulus cucumerous, Amblyseius spp., and Phytoseiid mites are beneficial insects that can be purchased and released in the field. Augmentative releases, depending on the pest pressures, is the best strategy.

The publication Natural Enemies and Biological Control, from the University offers more detailed information and resources.

The following pesticides are taken from ATTRAs Biorationals: Ecological Pest Management Database using thrips as a target pest. Some of these products are accepted in organic production, but others may not be. Always check with your organic certifier before applying any materials to determine whether it is accepted for organic production.

• Oils: petroleum, mineral, herb, soy, orange, narrow range, etc. Check the label for phytotoxicity and high temperatures, especially in tropical areas.

• Brandt Eco Tec Plus, which contains rosemary, geraniol, and peppermint oils

• Sulfur, elemental dust, water soluble or with mixed with oil. Again check the labels regarding phytotoxicity and high temperature

• Microbial insecticides include products such as:
o Botanigard with the active ingredient Beauveria bassiana is said to increase its efficacy with a commercial product called Tricon (Sodium tetraborohydrate decahydrate from borax and plant oils)
o Ancora Microbial insecticide with the active ingredient Isaria fumosorosea Apopka
o Spinosad products such as Entrust
o Grandevo (Chronobacterium) from Marrone BioInnovations

• Botanical insecticides such as products that contain:
o Neem or Azadiractin
o Pyrethrins

• Repellents with garlic, such as:
o Biolink insect and bird repellent
o Captiva, which contains garlic as well as capsicum and soy oil

Note: Mention of specific brand names is for educational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by NCAT, ATTRA, or USDA.