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IPM Strategy for foxglove aphids

The gloves are off for foxglove aphids.

July 12, 2018  By Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

IPM strategy against foxglove aphids Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

Having trouble controlling foxglove aphids in your greenhouse? You’re not alone.

Foxglove aphids are problematic for greenhouse growers and many believe that commercially available natural enemies offer low efficacy, leaving them with no other choice but to use pesticides. In an effort to mitigate this problem, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) completed a three-year project to provide growers with an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy against these aphids in greenhouse ornamentals.

Based on research at Vineland and commercial greenhouse trials in Ontario and Québec, Rose Buitenhuis, PhD, Vineland Research Scientist, Biological Control and her team developed an effective IPM strategy depicted in a user-friendly infographic.


Scouting the crop early and regularly against aphids dramatically improves the efficacy of the IPM program. Growers should walk through plants, inspecting all sides of leaves. Once detected, the parasitoid Aphidius ervi should be released for several weeks.

If aphid numbers increase, biopesticides or predators can be used as supporting strategies to minimize populations. “In addition to aphid predators that are already commercially available, we found three new suitable biocontrol agents: biopesticide Met52, a pea protein and a novel predatory mite,” said Buitenhuis. “These agents provided good control levels against foxglove aphids and were compatible with A. ervi.”

Clean-up of crops is the final step and pesticide sprays can be used before shipment if there are remaining aphids. Beleaf and Endeavour are good final clean-up spray options. Note that the pesticide Enstar is not compatible with A. ervi.

Cultural management practices can also help decrease aphid populations. The use of screens over vents and the removal of infested weeds from inside and outside the greenhouse prevent entry of aphids. Reduction of nitrogen fertilizer rates may also help decrease aphid population growth and damage to the crop.


“Our results helped us formulate practical recommendations for a successful foxglove aphid IPM strategy,” said Buitenhuis. Results from various trials also validated these recommendations amounting to a 50 per cent reduction in pesticide use against foxglove aphid.

“Our IPM strategy will help growers respond to emerging pest issues while maintaining high production value and ensuring the Canadian floriculture sector remains competitive,” said Buitenhuis.

In the final phase of this project, Vineland is doing extensive outreach to growers and biocontrol companies through industry presentations/posters/fact sheets, greenhouse trials, publication of scientific articles and updates to industry resource

This project was supported by the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA) research and innovation cluster and funded in part through the AgriInnovation Program under Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists COHA in the delivery of this research and innovation cluster.

This research was led by Michelangelo La Spina, PhD, Research Associate at Vineland, in partnership with Sarah Jandricic, Greenhouse Floriculture IPM Specialist, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, the Quebec Institute for the Development of Ornamental Horticulture (IQDHO), Vanleeuwen Flower Farms Ltd. in Ontario and Les Serres Arundel in Québec.

Look out for more on A. ervi and foxglove aphid control in the September issue of Greenhouse Canada.

For more information, please contact: Rose Buitenhuis, PhD Research Scientist, Biological Control 905-562-0320 x749

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