It may not look like it but in amongst these rows of strawberries in Ricardoes giant greenhouse a battle to the death is taking place. In one corner a pest which is attacking the strawberry leaves, in the other a predator which is doing its best to wipe out the pest. It’s the farms latest organic weapon to protect its award-winning crop.
Matthew Parker: As an alternative to using insecticides we can release a predatory mite which I breed which takes on those two-spotted mites.
The two-spotted mite is the bad guy in this scenario and the good guy, well his name can really only be said by the expert.
Matthew Parker: It’s Phytoseiulus persimilis and it feeds on the common pest Tetranychus urticae.
Ricardoes took delivery of 60 000 of the predatory mites this morning and has already started putting them to work.
Matthew Parker: We bread this particular lot on a bean leaf and we simply will then put the bean leaves up into the crop and the predators will move off those bean leaves and will start feeding on the pest mites in these strawberries.
The fruit itself is untouched by the microscopic warfare. That’s all taking place on the leaves.
Anthony Sarks: Two-spotted mite gives the leaf the grief and of course the leaf is the factory of the plant. So, the good bugs basically attack the bad bugs on the leaf not affecting the fruit whatsoever.