PIRATE BUGS FACT SHEET & Release Instructions
Pirate Bugs are general-purpose feeders about 1/20" long, and both nymphs and adults possess a "piercing-sucking beak" which they use to pierce a hole and suck their victims dry. Pirate Bugs prefer thrips larvae, but adult thrips are also killed as well as spider mites, insect eggs, aphids, and small caterpillars. Each adult Pirate Bug can eat 5 to 20 thrips larvae per day, and with higher thrips infestations even more are killed.
Pirate Bugs are supplied in bottles, mixed with vermiculite and buckwheat shells. They should be released as quickly as possible after delivery. If storage is necessary the unhatched bottles can be stored for an extra day, at a temperature of 50-60° F., laying the bottles horizontally, out of direct sunlight. In order to get an even distribution, the bottles should be gently shaken and turned before use. Spread the contents out on the soil surface and/or over the leaves. The material should then remain on the leaves for a few days, in order to give all Pirate Bug nymphs the chance to establish themselves in the crop. Spread the material evenly over the infested areas. In areas of heavier thrip infestation add extra bugs.
The female Pirate Bug lays her eggs in the plant tissue, especially in the leaf and flower petioles and in the main veins. Eggs are white-clear in color. In the young stage Pirate Bugs are yellow; while in older nymphal stages the color changes to brown. The winged adult stage is characterized by a brownish to black color on the wings, with grey-white faces. Each female lays about 2-4 eggs per day, depending on the availability of food and the temperature. Over her 3-4 week adult lifespan, a female can lay 80-100 eggs. In addition to thrips, aphids, spider mites and whitefly pupae are also eaten. Pollen is also used as food.
Pirate Bugs can be used on many crops to control thrip populations. The actual number of Pirate Bugs needed depends on the level of thrip infestation. With peppers, they have been used preventively for thrip control, using periodic releases, perhaps every 3-4 months. Pirate Bugs can also be used with thrip-eating predator mites, and for stubborn thrip infestations the combination is recommended.
Pirate Bugs don't breed well during short daylengths, so additional lighting may be used to provide a total of 15+ hours of light daily.
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