The predatory mite A. swirskii is one of the most successful commercial natural enemies in covered crops. It is a generalist predator and is used commercially to control the major greenhouse pests; thrips, whiteflies and mites.
A key to its success is its ease of rearing and its ability to develop and reproduce on non-prey food sources such as pollen and plant nectar, allowing populations to increase in the absence of the pest prey. In addition, it can be active continually throughout the production period, if the temperature is above 22oC. It works by simply waiting for its prey to pass by, or actively searching for its prey.
A. swirskii originates from the Mediterranean region (Italy, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece and Egypt) where it can be found on various crops including citrus and vegetables. Due to its success as a biocontrol agent, it has been released globally with many successes.
In particular, it has been used to manage whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum and Bemisia tabaci), thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) and mites (two spotted spidermite (Tetranychus urticae)) in greenhouse vegetables (especially pepper, cucumber and aubergine) and fruits.
It can be applied as a preventative or curative agent, by increasing the number of individuals applied per square metre. Application can be carried out by simply sprinkling the predator/carrier product throughout the greenhouse manually or using a hand-held air blower for more effective distribution of the individuals.
An example of a successful application of the A. swirskii can be illustrated with a case study from Spain, where it has been used to control pests in honey melon, https://www.ibmabiocontrolsuccess.org/case/swirskii-predatory-mite-controls-pests-in-greenhouse-in-honey-melon-in-spain/
To see the predator in action against whitefly, go to https://youtu.be/ebatptL6m-E
For more information on biocontrol agents and to find the products in your region, visit: www.bioprotectionportal.com