It was the first beneficial to be produced by Koppert and, after 53 years, it is also the oldest. However, Phytoseiulus persimilis will not be put into retirement any time soon because Koppert has now converted it into Spidex Vital. A new product with excellent prospects. ‘Spidex Vital will become a game changer in spider mite control.’
Tried and trusted, and easy to use – that is how most growers would describe Phytoseiulus persimilis. For many years, this predatory mite has provided an excellent response to the two-spotted spider mite in numerous crops.
We now have Spidex Vital. Koppert expects it to completely take over the position of the old Spidex product in the global market within a year. The company has very good reasons to think so – three outstanding benefits of using Spidex Vital.
More fanatical search behaviour
It all started with ingenious modifications to the predatory mite itself. The R&D staff at Koppert BV managed to get it to develop on a different diet. Tim Bossinga explains, ‘The important thing is that the predatory mite is “fleshier” when it leaves our rearing facility thanks to this new diet. This means it has more energy to do what it needs to do on the grower’s premises. Its search behaviour is more fanatical, which makes it more effective. It responds more quickly in spider mite hot-spots and is more efficient at dealing with them. Improved treatment of hot-spots is the first benefit for users.’
Faster generation build-up
The second benefit is another consequence of the new diet. Due to the higher energy level in the predatory mite, there is no interruption to egg development in Phytoseiulus females and development also continues during the transport phase. Tim continues, ‘As a result, the eggs of Spidex Vital are already much more advanced in their development. Not only do the predatory mites search more fanatically but they can also lay more eggs a lot faster. This means that the creation of the next generation starts immediately after the predatory mites are introduced to the crop. This can shorten the generation interval by up to two days, which is a significant advantage for growers faced with a spider mite infestation.’
From white to red
The third benefit for users is proof of predation. When Phytoseiulus persimilis eats spider mites, it turns red and takes on the colour of the spider mites. In the case of Spidex Vital, the predatory mite leaves the rearing process white, before it has changed colour.
‘This is very useful for the grower. The predatory mites supplied to him are white. So as soon as he encounters red predatory mites in his crop, he knows that they have started their work. The predatory mites have fed on spider mites and taken on their red colour. It is rather like a simple litmus test, all things considered, but it does prove that the predatory mite is doing its job.’
Visual signal as a preventive measure
The change in colour from white to red can only provide certainty, of course, when the predatory mites have been newly released. All new generations in the crop develop on a diet of spider mite and automatically turn red.
But all the same... Tim Bossinga explains, ‘The fact that the red colour acts as a visual signal adds new possibilities to the strategy. If the grower does not know whether his crop is harbouring spider mites, he can release Spidex Vital as a preventive measure. If he discovers red-coloured predatory mites, then it is clear that the pest is present. He can immediately tailor his measures accordingly.’
Game changer in spider mite control
As Koppert is able to control the production conditions even better now, this increases delivery security which is yet another advantage for users. Growers benefit greatly from Spidex Vital, and their spider mite control becomes more robust. Tim concludes, ‘We will explain the added value of the new product to the market in very clear terms. Just like its predecessor more than fifty years ago, Spidex Vital has the full potential to develop into a game changer in spider mite control. It changes the rules of the game and is even more in control of spider mites. And the grower reaps the benefits.’