Countertop Production of Predatory Mites for Public Distribution
Predatory mites can be an effective and sustainable way to control arthropod pests. However, a majority of the public do not know about them, how to use them, or how to obtain them. Additionally, if a supplier is located, costs of shipping and handling are greater than the cost of the mites due to their perishability. In the past, rearing predatory mites involved raising pest arthropods for them to eat as well as the predatory mites themselves. Keeping both populations separate and healthy can be difficult. This project is part of a statewide research grant to determine how best to rear predatory mites on countertops for use in distribution and education of the public. Several different rearing procedures were assessed to determine the easiest and most effective method for rearing and distribution. The best method was rearing the predatory mites in dishes with water “moats” to contain them, feeding them pollen, and providing cotton balls for egg laying and subsequent distribution. Extension agents participating in the trials are poised to promote this program statewide to interested extension agents and clientele. Clients with whitefly, spider mite, or thrips damage can be given a cotton ball in a plastic baggie to take home to provide biological pest control, along with being educated about biological control. UF/IFAS Extension will be able to lead the way in promoting biological control with the public, reducing chemicals in the environment, and providing clients with immediate pest control solutions.