More Environmentally Friendly Way to Control Strawberry Pests

Dan Fruits, Pest/Pest Control, Specialty Crops

Strawberry plant damage due to thrips and mites

There is good news for strawberry farmers as we head into a new year. University of Florida scientists have found a way to better control the chilli thrips that can make strawberries virtually unmarketable. Research efforts have discovered a more environmentally friendly way to control these pests, meaning the use of less pesticides.

While pesticides do kill the thrips, they also can destroy predatory mites, pollinators and other beneficial insects, which can result in a pest resurgence and thus, less fruit yield. As a substitute for pesticides, new research by UF/IFAS assistant professor of entomology Sriyanka Lahiri points toward using mites to control the thrips (a bug).

In recent years, chilli thrips has caused significant economic damage to strawberries. It feeds on plant tissues and reduces fruit size, leaving farmers with far fewer strawberries to sell.


In newly published research, UF/IFAS entomologists found that a biopesticide and the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii can more effectively control chilli thrips than using traditional pesticides. With the treatments, scientists saw little damage to the strawberries.

They not\e this is especially relevant for organic strawberry production, because there are very few effective tools to manage thrips that are also certified to be used in organic production.