Home garden/hobby growers

Biological Services does not supply home gardeners and hobby gardeners directly, but we do produce a range of products which can help control aphids, whiteflies and two spotted mites that are common in vegetables and ornamentals. These pests are best controlled in a home garden situation by using a mix of predators and parasites and will require multiple introductions for the best control. Check our distributors listed at the bottom of this page, who will be happy to take your order.

Biological control agents are a great option for home gardeners, or hobby gardeners. In these situations, they often work even better than in commercial situations, because most home gardens have a wide variety of plants, rather than a monoculture. This means there is usually alternative pollen and nectar sources available for predators and parasites in the absence of preferred prey. Home gardeners are more likely to be able to tolerate some damage to their plants than commercial growers before resorting to chemicals.

When using biological control agents in home gardens, the same principles apply as in commercial crops:

No chemical residues

There must be no chemical residues on plants - plants should not have been sprayed with any chemicals within the past 4-6 weeks. For information on the side effects of chemicals on beneficials, check out the links to some informative side effects lists on our links page. If you need to hold the bugs for a day before distributing them in the garden, do not use fly spray anywhere in the house while the bugs are there and turn off any automatic pyrethrum spray units.

Low pest numbers

Pest numbers should be at a minimum when predators/parasites are first introduced. Some beneficials can be introduced preventatively before pests have been found - this is the best strategy if there is a very low tolerance to any signs of damage such as on some ornamentals and flowers. Preventative strategies allow the beneficials to develop reasonable population sizes before the pests arrive, and results in lower pest densities as a whole.

Not a quick fix

Beneficials are not immediate “fixes” for pest problems—control usually takes a few weeks to be achieved, and in most cases multiple releases are required, but the results are much longer lasting than chemical fixes which create pest and beneficial “vacuums” in a garden.

Distribute promptly

Beneficials must be distributed in a garden as soon as they are received. They are easily killed in hot weather if they are left in their containers and heat up. They are living organisms and need food, moisture and oxygen to survive.

Be proactive

When dealing with pest outbreaks, it is much easier to control pests when they are still confined to small areas. You need to be proactive when using biocontrol agents rather than reactive. Treating small hotspots is much easier and cheaper than having to treat the whole garden

Diversity

As most home gardens/hobby gardens have a wide range of plants present at any one time, they usually have a wide range of pests present as well. For this reason, we provide some beneficials in combination with others so that a broader range of pests can be targeted by the application. Examples of this include parasitic wasps for aphid control - we supply a product called aphid parasite mix which has three different wasp species present which parasitise a wide range of aphid species. “Hypoaspis mix” is a mix of two species of predatory mite - Hypoaspis miles and Hypoaspis aculeifer. Both will feed on fungus gnats (sciarid flies) in the soil, but H. aculeifer will also help control bulb mites, while H. miles can also help control thrips pupae on the soil surface. By building populations of predators and parasites up in your garden before the pests get a hold can help keep pest numbers down below damaging levels.

Biological Services does not supply home gardeners and hobby gardeners directly, but the following companies are happy to take your order:

Bug Central distribute a wide range of beneficials around the country and can be contacted through their website www.bugcentral.com.au or via Stuart Pettigrew on 0429 936 812 or stuart@bugcentral.com.au.

Dawson’s Garden World (WA)

Dawson's Garden World - web site

Products

We produce 16 commercial biological control products for IPM programs. We also stock a range of traps and monitoring tools.

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Pests

Information on a range of key pests that can be controlled biologically in Australia using our products.

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Crops

We work in a range of crops and have developed biologically based IPM programs to control the major pests.

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