September ’21 – Thinking Outside the Box.

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A group of researchers at the University of Florida may have found an alternative method of pest management for strawberry plants:

The team decided to use an ultraviolet (UVC) light system to help prevent diseases in the plant. They found that UVC light helps in the control of Powdery Mildew, which is a fungus that grows on the leaves of the plants.

A further study then showed that the UVC system may also help prevent infestations of thrips and mites.

Strawberries are considered to be a superfood because of their high vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content. Both the fruit and the leaves of the plant are utilized in a variety of ways, ranging from treating medical ailments to jams and drinks. The sale and price of Strawberries has gone up significantly due to the increased demand in South Africa, as we become more health conscious.

What are Thrips and Mites?

Both are common little pests in our agricultural industry. These insects are so tiny (0.5mm – 1.0mm) that they usually appear as little dots on the leaves of plants.

  • Thrips are insects that are found scattered randomly around the tops of plant leaves.
  • Mites are part of the arachnid family, found along the main rib and veins of the underside of leaves.

These minute creatures feed off the chlorophyll within the leaves of the plant, leaving little white spots which cause the plant to turn pale, splotchy, and ultimately die. Thrips usually target citrus plants in South Africa, while mites are allrounders – enjoying most Angiosperms.

What were the results of the study?

The researchers found that the UVC system kills the eggs of the mites, interrupting the life cycle and ultimately controlling the pest insects.

The final conclusion:

Even though the solution wasn’t efficient in controlling the thrips completely, it’s still a huge step in the right direction for Integrated Pest Management as it is proof that there are alternatives to using chemicals to control pests. We just have to keep experimenting with new ideas and techniques to find them!

We at SMARTSENZ IPM ® are always looking for innovative ways to combat pests without the use of harmful chemicals. We look forward to the next study. Even if it is not 100% successful, we know that society is heading in the direction that we would like to be a part of!

The full article regarding the study can be found at the following link:

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