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Carnivorous Plants/Thrips and Sarracenia



I read your post at where you said you were trying BotaniGard.  Have you found it works well for Sarracenia for thrips?  Do you know of any other pesticides that are safe for humans that will kill thrips?
Acephate may be a bit too toxic. See

Regards Richard.

ANSWER: Hi Richard,

I actually haven't had a chance to use the Botanigard yet, but I've read nothing be excellent reviews on it.  Sap-sucking insects seems to be what the fungus is best at attacking.

Other pesticides that do work if you stay on top of the repeat application include Neem and insecticides based on Bifenthrin.  One product that seems to be all the rage with cp growers right now is Talstar, and it's an agricultural brand of Bifenthrin. (Synthetic pyrethroid).

Acephate is pretty toxic, but like many things how it's used is often the key.  Spraying it on potted Sarracenia is much different that putting the stuff on green beans and lettuce.  Wear gloves and a mask when applying, and only spray the crown of plants.  Don't broadcast spray.  Insects have to eat it since it's not a contact insecticide and it works as a systemic, so the plant will also absorb it through the roots.  I totally understand not wanting to use Acephate (Orthene), but it worked against Thrips when I had a bad outbreak.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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Thanks for the letter. I assume that the pesticides you suggest are safe for pitcher plants and that you have not had any reports of them adversely effecting the plants at the correct dose.  Is that so?

Bifenthrin appears to be very toxic to humans. states:
"Attacks eyes. Poisonous if swallowed. Harmful if inhaled. Will irritate the skin. Avoid contact with eyes and skin. Do not inhale vapour. When opening the container and preparing spray wear cotton overalls buttoned to the neck and wrist and a washable hat, and elbow-length PVC gloves and goggles. If applying by hand, wear cotton overalls over normal clothing, buttoned to the neck and wrist and a washable hat and elbow length PVC gloves. If product in eyes, wash it out immediately with water. Wash hands after use. After each day's use, wash gloves, goggles and contaminated clothing."

Neem appears safe. states:
"The EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) says neem is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use in food products. They even exempted their typical requirement for maximum pesticide residues on agricultural products."

I do have some Confidor containing Imidacloprid and a reputable company said it was for Thrips. See . Do you suggest it is not worth trying and that Neem may be more likely to work better?  I just wonder if you used a pesticide that has a lower concentration of Imidacloprid when you said it did not work for you.
I read "The product sold as Confidor contains the active ingredient Imidacloprid, which is a nicotine-based insecticide and is only mildly toxic when compared with Black Leaf 40."

Do you think it could also be worth trying White Oil or Pyrethrin ?

Regards Richard.

ANSWER: Hi Richard,

With all of my recommendations we've actually used that insecticide, and know it to be safe, or what plants can handle it and which ones can't.  As an example, Nepenthes and Sarracenia can handle botanical oil insecticides (peppermint, clove, etc...) or insecticidal soaps just fine.  Sundews and butterworts are sensitive to those however.  Acepahte is safe on all cp but should be used with caution on butterworts.  Neem has proven safe on all cp when used as directed, which is often the key with all these chemicals.

We used to use Bayer Imidacloprid containing products but have since stopped.  Our Thrips here in the Pacific Northwest are completely immune to it.  The state of Oregon and very likely the USDA, is on the verge of banning all Neonicitinoid insecticides like Imidacloprid because of their implication in colony collapse disorder in Honey Bees.  You don't want to use this stuff when plants are blooming, or about to bloom within 30 days.

I would only recommend an oil during dormancy.  Most horticultural oils are for trees and not herbaceous plants.  Pyrethrins will contact kill adult Thrips, but you will need to spray every few days as more eggs hatch out.  Pyrethrins is only active for 24 hours, then breaks down in UV light.

Here's my recommendations.  You have to decide what you're comfortable with. Do you want to "nuke-em" and be done with it?  Use Acephate or Talstar.  Take the safety precautions.  If you want to stay organic, use Neem, Pyrethrins or Botaniguard.  You just have to stay on top of the re-application.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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With my thrip invested Sarracenia, do you think it would be a good idea to cut ALL the leaves and pitchers of them including the older green growth now as the plants are mainly dormant and it is the first month of Winter. I would leave the younger shoots that are not infested if there are any. I am just wondering if cutting off all the older green growth as well could set the plant back in the coming growing season because I heard that the plant should have some green growth left on as a nutrient source for the plant. However, removing all the older green growth would get rid of more of the thrips which are probably on this green growth. It is also much quicker to remove all the leaves than only selecting the dead leaves. This would save me money as I have to pay my worker to do it.

So I am wondering if it makes much difference to the health of the plant for the coming season if all the leaves and pitchers are removed now compared to if only the mostly dead ones are removed?  Have you compared this and noticed any difference or noticed any difference between the health your plants and someone else's Sarracenia in your area that leaves the green leaves on?

I also received an email from a large carnivorous plant nursery that said: "The best treatment to use is Yates Success, this is an extract from bacteria that is lethal to thrips, not much else works."
It is supposed to be fairly safe for humans.

Regards Richard.

Hi Richard,

In regards to clipping Sarracenia, this is and area where there is no ambiguity for us.  We always cut all leaves off of any of the upright Sarracenia, including phyllodia.  We only trim S. purpurea varieties and S. psittacina since their leaves tend to be more evergreen, and they don't have large rhizomes compared to the trumpet Sarracenia forms.  Removing all leaves opens up the rhizomes to more sun, you get better looking growth in spring, and you remove pest and diseases that might be lurking on/in the dead leaves.  We done this for over a decade now, and I've seen the difference enough times of selectively trimmed plants versus having all the leaves removed and I have no question to which is the superior practice.  

The most striking example for me came about 10 years ago when I was still on the fence about this topic.  We had an employee working for us at that time and it was late winter and time to clip dead Sarracenia leaves.  We normally did this for most varieties like I described above, but would be more selective for some like psittacina hybrids like Scarlet Belle.  We had one pool of Scarlet Belle's in four inch pots that I had asked my husband to only selectively trim.  When our worker did his job, however, he cut everything including the the Scarlet Belles.  I thought, well, those aren't going to be sellable this year.  I was so wrong.  They were the best looking of batch.  The ones that were selectively trimmed didn't produce as many leaves, and the new growth was spindly since it couldn't get as much light.  So, I don't care at this point what any other grower says about trimming during dormancy, cut the old leaves off!  Here's a fun video:

I was fascinated by the Yates product.  This is available in the U.S. under the name Delegate.  It is very expensive!  It's $244.00 US for 26 ounces of concentrate.  It is the first organic insecticide I've seen that is also systemic.  I have no experience with it, but if you try it, let us know how it works.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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