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Biological control of Western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis using a self-sustaining granular fungal treatment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 June 2021

Agrin Davari*
Entomology Research Laboratory, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT05405-0105, USA
Bruce L. Parker
Entomology Research Laboratory, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT05405-0105, USA
Cheryl Frank Sullivan
Entomology Research Laboratory, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT05405-0105, USA
Arash Ghalehgolabbehbahani
Entomology Research Laboratory, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT05405-0105, USA
Margaret Skinner
Entomology Research Laboratory, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT05405-0105, USA
Author for correspondence: Agrin Davari, Email:


Western flower thrips (WFT), Frankliniella occidentalis, is one of the most destructive pests of vegetables, fruits and ornamental crops worldwide, causing extensive damage by direct feeding of the crop and transmitting economically important viruses. Despite the successes of biocontrol agents to control WFT, more efficient and cost-effective ways must be found to encourage grower adoption of integrated pest management. A sustainable fungal treatment was developed to preserve fungal inoculum in potting soil and reduce thrips populations. Combining cooked, oven-dried millet with BotaniGard® (a commercial form of Beauveria bassiana strain GHA) to potting soil increased spore production and persistence of the fungus in the soil. In treated pots with millet, spore concentrations were 3–4 times greater after 30 days compared with spore yields at 10 days. The number of WFT adults was significantly lower in the marigold pots treated with GHA mix + millet than untreated controls, 12% and 10% in treated pots and 70% and 68% in untreated pots in sterile and non-sterile soil, respectively. Incorporation of millet in the potting mix enhanced the effect of the fungal treatments by providing a nutritive substrate on which the fungus could become established. This method is relatively inexpensive and easy for growers to use in greenhouses because granular formulations of B. bassiana are not commercially available.

Research Paper
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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