We’re starting a series of photo posts here at The Bug Farm. Every few weeks, we’ll be putting up some slices of life with quotes and helpful tips from the Rincon Vitova Team. The captions might be a bit formal, but we’re working on a system to have some slide shows which will make it all the better. Stay tuned!
Resident entomologist Ron Whitehurst inspects a Lacewing Larvae Unit for larvae size and distribution at Rincon Vitova Insectaries in Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, October 17, 2008. “They start out as an egg about 1/30th of an inch and are 5/8th inch when full grown,” explains Whitehurst. Using syringe like pincers to inject digestive enzymes and liquefy their prey, the lacewing larvae “can become effective predators for any soft bodied insects.”
Kyra Ankenbruck and Ron Whitehurst drop moth eggs into the lacewing larvae units in the assembly room at Rincon Vitova Insectaries in Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, October 17, 2008. The eggs act as a food source during transit. “They’ll have enough food while en route to end users plus they will eat any other lacewing larvae in the cell. [The customer gets] whoever wins.” Ankenbruck says with a smile. Lacewing larvae are voracious predators resorting to cannibalism if there is no other prey.
Jan Dietrick demonstrates how to check the larvae by tapping the unit above white paper. Each unit is filled 115% to ensure each of the 500 cells will have a larva. “Our standard is to overfill the units,” Dietrick explains. “You have to tap the back really hard, because the little larvae may hold onto the inside of the cells.” This same method is used for in-field release of the larvae on infested foliage.
Stacks of Lacewing Larvae Units stand behind the glue board in the assembly room at Rincon Vitova Insectaries in Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, October 17, 2008. The glue glob on the board has grown layer by layer as a paint roller is used to glue the organdy covers on. Kyra Ankenbruck encountered the glue board in May 2006. “It wasn’t much smaller than now,” Ankenbruck comments.
Kyra Ankenbruck waters down the floor of the Lacewing Larvae Unit incubation room at Rincon Vitova Insectaries in Ventura, Calif., on Friday, November 14, 2008. In dry weather, watering the floor keeps the high humidity the larvae need. “You wouldn’t believe how many we’ve lost when the Santa Anas [hot California winds], blow in,” says Ankenbruck.
For more info on Lacewings and their larvae, check out Rincon Vitova’s Lacewing Bulliten.
All Images copyright: Bryce Yukio Adolphson © 2008 and may not be reused without express permission.