by Alex Robles
Neoseiulus cucumeris was the first phytoseiid mite found to feed on thrips, in 1939. It was forgotten about or looked past until the 1980. We become a lot more concerned with pests becoming resistant to chemical controls. Those chemicals were also starting to get into groundwater and affect the environment and our health in a negative way. So that’s the cucumeris became such a popular general biological predator for pest management.
- Neoseiulus cucumeris will aggressively prey on immature pest like the western flower thrips , onion thrips, melon thrips, common blossom thrips, and chilli thrips, Asian citrus psyllid. It will also feed on pollen, two-spotted mites and other species of mites.
- It is soft-bodied and translucent pale brown to sometimes tan-colored depending on what they’re eating.
- The adult is pear shaped and is about 0.5-1.0 mm in length. So it’s going to be hard to see with the naked eye, I suggest using at least 10x-15x magnification to get a look at them.
- Before cucumeris mature to adults they grow through one larval stage and two nymphal stages. The life cycle from egg to adult is completed in 10 to 12 days at 72-80F.
- The adults will live for about 25-35 days which will eat an average of 1 thrips/day. Remember, cool weather will slow down their activity.
- An adult female produces 1-3 egg a day and an average of 35 eggs during her lifetime. Eggs are oval, translucent and laid on leaf hairs on the lower surface of the leaf. They hatch in about 3 days but the larvae won’t feed until they molt for the first time 2 days later.
- The nymphs also have big appetites for pest during the two nymphal stages which can last for 7 to 10 days before they start changing into adults.
- The cucumeris can survive on pollen only diet but it seems to thrive when they have live prey to eat.
- Cucumeris are lazy predators, they love to eat live prey, but they won’t travel very far to hunt for it. So if you have pests high in your canopy and at soil level, reales some on both levels.
- It’s recommended to release a lot of cucumeris when battling thrips because thrips can reproduce nearly twice as fast as cucumeris, and they only feeds on immature thrips, not adults
- Cucumeris adults and immatures are shipped mixed with a bran carrier. I’ve seen them sold in bulk and I’ve used the slow reales bags. Slow release bags, have about 1/8 cup of carrier with predators and a food source. The bags are like miniature breeding homes and are hung on plants throughout the garden or greenhouse.
- Hydroponic grow have told me that sometimes the bran flakes fall out of the bags into the reservoir and cause problems.
Cucumeris isn’t the only biological predator that I use, because I know it has its limits, my list of top 5.
Resources: Rincon-Vitova https://www.rinconvitova.com/bulletins_product_htm/A_cucumeris_BUL.htm