Spidex Vital® sets new standards in spider control

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Spidex Vital® sets new standards in spider control

12 May 2021

In April, Koppert UK launched Spidex Vital® for spider mite control, to replace Spidex, the long-standing reliable Phytoseiulus persimilis brand which has served edible and ornamental growers for more than 50 years. The new product is also based on P. persimilis, but this comes with several new and interesting differences, which offer some new benefits.

Spidex Vital® has only been on the market for a short period, but already its performance is striking a chord with growers, and there are strong indications of widespread market acceptance. From baseline research through to re-branding, this process has again exemplified Koppert’s commitment to the markets it serves. “We are continually looking at new and improved solutions for pest control, and Spidex Vital® is a great example of this,” commented David Foster, General Manager for Koppert UK.

New innovative rearing system

The ultimate outcome of the Spidex Vital® project was the birth of a new P. persimilis product, but fundamental to this outcome, was the development of a completely new and innovative P. persimilis rearing system. The rearing method is centred on the use of an undisclosed artificial diet, which significantly increases the rearing capacity of P. persimilis. “This is a modern system which is capable of meeting the ever-increasing demands for P. persimilis around the world,” commented Tim Bossinga, Koppert BV Product Manager. The new system is now fully operational, and comes with key benefits, such as greater production control, product reliability and consistency. The original system is now obsolete, which means that Tetranychus urticae, which was the principle food source in the old rearing system, is no longer required.

Predators are white rather than red

Many soft fruit, ornamental and salad producers have already taken delivery of the new product, and their first impressions have been extremely positive. Growers have noticed that the new P. persimilis are white in colour rather than red. “It was important to communicate this fundamental difference to the market when we launched the product last month, in order to allay unnecessary concerns. This was successfully implemented by our communication department, via the rapid distribution of the new Spidex Vital® product leaflet to our UK customers,” commented Steve Usher, Technical Consultant for the North.

Remarkably, it only requires a white P. persimils to feed on spider mite prey for a day for it to synthesise the characteristic red-pigmentation. Growers and agronomists have commented how useful this colour change has been during crop scouting missions, as it provides an early visual indication of the feeding activities of Koppert’s white P. persimils.

The Spidex Vital® formulation is based on a well-fed P. persimils population consisting of eggs, nymphs and adults. The product can be applied to the crop canopy by using a shaker bottle or dosing tube, or through blower-type equipment such as the Airbug® and Mini-Airbug®. For strawberry crops, the Natutec Drive® offers the most efficient option. Once applied to the crop, the white P. persimilis actively search for spider mite prey. Their high level of success at detecting spider mite hot spots has been attributed to their initial elevated energy status.

Unlike red-pigmented forms, white P. persimils do not congregate around the rim of the applicator bottles when applying the product manually. The fact that they remain within the carrier is a positive feature of Spidex Vital®. In order to check the product for the presence of P. persimilis, a simple procedure can be carried out, which involves placing a small amount of wood chip carrier, e.g. 0.5 ml on a black surface, which makes them easier to see as they run across the dark surface.

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Adrian Jackson Consultant (Midlands)

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