By Alison DeLoach
Gall midge has been wreaking havoc in blueberry crops across the Southeast. However, introducing more insects into your production system could help solve the problem.
Renee Allen, area blueberry agent with University of Georgia Extension, recently spoke about the advantages of using beneficial insects that are natural enemies of blueberry gall midge.
Blueberry gall midge destroys the blueberries’ flower buds and causes a great deal of damage to vegetative growth. The pest causes decreased yields and smaller berries with low sugar. In most cases, gall midge is found in southern rabbiteye blueberry production.
Beneficial insects feed on the pests that harm crops. One of the natural enemies that Allen mentioned for gall midge was the parasitic eulophid wasp, which “has an overall parasitism rate of 7 percent in the field, and at times it can peak at 34 percent. (This) contributes to a 75 percent decline in the abundance of the gall midge larvae coinciding with this parasitoid activity between April to September,” she explained.
According to Allen, another natural option that can be used as an early-season predator of immature gall midge is a larval species of flower fly called Toxomerus geminatus.
Allen said some beneficial insects are more efficient at killing some blueberry pests when they are concealed inside the flower bud. To experience the most success with beneficial insects, growers need to keep in mind the importance of monitoring the humidity and temperature in their fields, as well as maintaining an abundance of natural hosts.
Hear Allen’s full interview with Tacy Callies:
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