There are hundreds of different insect species that can be found in most vegetable crops.
A few are pests, but most are either beneficial (helping to control pests) or benign (neither pest nor beneficial).
The conventinal approach to dealing with pests has been regular and often frequent applications of broad-spectrum insecticides.
This approach meant that aphid-borne diseases such as celery mosaic virus had became worse over time, as natural enemies of aphids were systematically prevented from living in celery crops but aphids were not all killed.
Resistance to insecticides by some pests meant that the standard reliance on insecticides meant that a new approach was required.
Controlling the pests in a sustainable way is best achieved through an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, which involves using cultural, biological and chemical measures in a compatible way.
Monitoring the insects regularly throughout the life of the crop, and even before planting in some cases, allows you to know exactly what types of insects are present and determine the risk of damage.
This project aimed to develop an IPM strategy for celery and to demonstrate that IPM strategy to celery growers.
Included is a guide to the species of most interest in celery and methods to monitor the pests.
Cultural Controls and Biological Controls are the main elements of any IPM strategy.
Important cultural controls that impact on pest management in celery include :
Biological control agents may be predators, parasites or pathogens.
Insect predators and parasites are extremely common and are largely responsible for unseen control.
They reach where pesticides cannot, and can achieve high levels of control, but they are highly vulnerable to most insecticides.
Additional control is often required and if compatible sprays are used that do not kill these beneficial agents then you will have both sprays and beneficial insects working for you.
If pesticides are applied that kill beneficial insects then you only have pesticides on your side.
Regular monitoring is the only way to know the current situation regarding numbers and control given by biological control agents.
In an IPM strategy, chemical control is used to back up cultural and biological controls and should not be seen as the primary control method.
When necessary, chemicals that assist biological control should be used rather than those that destroy biological control. For example, border sprays can be a useful support strategy in an IPM programme.
There are two pests of celery for which control could be significantly improved with some more research and development.
The author wishes to thank all of the celery farmers who took part in this project, but especially Mr Tom Schreurs who initiated the project and Mr Theo Schreurs who was the first to try many of the novel approaches to pest management that we suggested.
I would also like to thank Mr Patrick Ulloa for his support for this project, and all members of IPM Technologies P/L who took part in different aspects of the project.
This project was commissioned by Horticulture Australia Limited with funds frrom the Vegetable R&D levy..
The Australian Government provides matched funding for all HAL’s R&D activities.