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Greenhouse pest control

Early detection and diagnosis of pests will help keep them under control
Photo courtesy of University of Connecticut

I love walking into greenhouses, especially in the cooler months of the year. The warm temperatures and humidity make them so inviting. Unfortunately the bugs think so too, and can wreak a lot of havoc on the plants if they’re not controlled.

Ric Bessin is an extension entomologist at the University of Kentucky. He says greenhouse pests tend to have short life cycles and can rebound quickly after being sprayed. This means it’s critical to know the common insects that invade the crops you’re growing, and be able to recognize them.

"Not only recognizing the adult stage, but the immature stage," says Bessin. "You need to know where to look for them on the plant because many of these can be very hidden either on the undersides of leaves, or in the buds, or potentially in the media that you’re growing the plants."

Bessin says pesticides are one tool for control, but there are many ways to prevent pest problems with good cultural practices. One is to have a weed-free greenhouse.

"Weeds that are underneath benches, you know along the outer walls and things like that are going to harbor insects, and mites potentially. If people are growing cycles of crops, having a plant-free period in the greenhouse is very helpful," says Bessin. "Letting the greenhouse cool down in the winter or warm up in the summer helps to eliminate the residual pests from the last crop cycle."

Good sanitation, removing debris, and managing nutrients and water will also help. When you bring in new plants and plugs, Bessin recommends putting sticky cards on the plants and isolating them for a week-to-10-days to make sure they’re pest-free.

Regular monitoring is a must. If you’re not out there weekly, just a few bugs can create a crisis situation pretty fast.

Find more tips for keeping bugs out of the greenhouse

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