Beating Plant Pests for grown vegetable crops such as tomatoes, pepper and cucumbers involves implementing a variety of strategies in order to alleviate problems with insect and mite pests, including the use of insecticides or miticides. However the first line of defense in dealing with insect and mite pests (e.g aphids, mites, thrips, and white-flies) in vegetable production systems in non-chemical plant protection strategies that include: scouting, sanitation, trapping, and cultural and biological methods.
Beating Plant Pests: 1. SCOUTING
Scouting is an important component of any plant protection program. The primary goals of scouting vegetable crops are;
a). Correctly identify insect or mite pest feeding on crops
b). Asses population dynamics and trends through out the growing season.
Pest identification is critical in determining the extent of the problem and what non-chemical means will help to alleviate future infestations. Determining population dynamics or the number of insects and or mite pests will help track fluctuations (up and down) in pest populations during the growing season. This assists producers on when to take appropriate action. For vegetable crops e.g; cucumber, peppers and tomatoes. the beat method is effective in detecting the presence of aphids, mites and thrips. The beat method involves shaking plant leaves over a white sheet of paper.
Beating Plant Pests: 2. SANITATION
Sanitation involves removing weeds and cleaning-up plant debris or residues, from within and outside the greenhouse facility. Weeds located outside the greenhouse provide refuge for many insect and mite pests, including: aphids, leaf-miners, thrips, spider mites and white flies. Consequently weeds allow insect and mite pests to survive, and potentially disperse onto vegetable crops. Many weeds may serve as refuge for insect pests. Furthermore, weeds may serve as reservoirs for pathogens (fungi and viruses) that can be acquired by insects while feeding, and then transmitted when feeding on vegetable crops including tomatoes and cucumbers.
Beating Plant Pests: 3. TRAPPING
Yellow sticky tape can be placed among a vegetable crop in order to mass-trap or capture large numbers of insect est including: adult aphids, thrips and white-flies. Yellow sticky tape is positioned in rows hung vertically within the greenhouse. In addition, yellow sticky tape can be placed near openings e.g side walls which may capture adult insects as they enter the greenhouse from outdoors.
Beating Plant Pests: 4. CULTURAL METHODS
Vegetable crops that are over fertilized, especially with nitrogen-based fertilizers, tend to be more susceptible to aphids and spider mites. Over fertilization may change plant quality thus making plants a better food source for insect and mite pests, which will enhance development, growth, and reproduction. Over- fertilizing vegetable crops results in higher levels of amino acids, thus leading to an increase in feeding by suckin insect and mite pests(those with piercing-sucking mouth-parts). Therefore only provide enough fertility for plant growth.