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Insects and other arthropod pests of Blueberry

Only a few species of insects cause direct damage to the blueberry plant or its fruit in the Pacific Northwest. Some insects, even predators and parasites, occasionally become problems when they are incidentally harvested with the fruit. This situation almost exclusively arises with mechanically harvested berries.

The common insect pests of blueberries in the Pacific Northwest usually follow seasonal patterns of infestation. Correct identification, knowledge of their life histories, and understanding of insect behavior allow for timely detection of potentially damaging populations. Preventative as well as curative con-trols are available for most pests. Where research data and/or field observations indicate a probability of success, alternatives to chemical controls are given.

This section identifies the common pests, presents information on their biologies, and indicates how to detect and monitor populations. Economic thresholds or action levels (population densities of the pests when it becomes economical for their control) are not well researched for the pests of blueberries. However, guidelines for management and control based on field experience are presented. A good quality 10x hand lens is recommended for magnification and identification of the various insects found in blueberry plantings.

Should an insecticide application be necessary, consult Extension Bulletin 1491, Pest Control Guide for Commercial Small Fruits or the Pacific Northwest Insect Control Handbook (see Blueberry Bibliography ).Also, the Extension Service can provide information for the control of most pests.

Remember that wild bees, particularly bumble bees and honeybees, are essential to pollination and fruit set. The use of insecticides is discouraged during bloom or when populations of these valuable pollinators are present in blueberry plantings. Always notify nearby beekeepers well in advance of an insecticide application so that appropriate precautions can be taken. Information relating to the toxicities and hazards of the insecticides used on blueberries, as well as techniques to reduce bee-poisoning situations can be found in the Pacific Northwest Insect Control Handbook and WREP 15, How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides (see Blueberry Bibliography).

This fact sheet is adapted from Oregon State University Extension Publication PNW215, Highbush Blueberry Production. The authors of Highbush Blueberry Production are – Oregon State University: Bernadine Strik, Glenn Fisher, John Hart, Russ Ingham, Diane Kaufman, Ross Penhallegon, Jay Pscheidt and Ray William; Washington State University: Charles Brun, M. Ahmedullah, Art Antonelli, Leonard Askham, Peter Bristow, Dyvon Havens, Bill Scheer, and Carl Shanks; University of Idaho: Dan Barney. PNW215, Highbush Blueberry Production can be purchased from the Department of Extension & Experiment Station Communications, Oregon State University. How to Order