Today I want to share with you one of my favourite things of all time – the Bug Dorm. Basically a mini, insect-proof tent, Bug Dorms are an amazingly useful tool for conducting quick-and-dirty experiments in your greenhouse. By containing (or excluding) insects, they can help growers answer SPECIFIC pest questions in their SPECIFIC crop or operation, without needing to wait for researchers to find the answers.
What they are:
- Bug dorms are made of polyester netting that can stop most insects (including thrips), giving you a way to contain pests and their host plants
- The mesh size still allows for ventilation, meaning the environment inside the cage is similar to the greater greenhouse environment.
- They come in multiple designs and sizes so you can pick one that fits your needs
- They are collapsible, so you can store them out of the way when not in use
- At approx. $50 each + shipping (for the 60 cm x 60 cm model) , they are worth the price because of their durability (seriously, if I haven’t broken one, then you won’t).
What can you do with them:
By properly containing plants AND their pests, you can conduct pretty much any experiment you want on a pest of interest (insert evil maniacal laughter here).
Insect populations are easily monitored in the cages by 1) hanging a sticky card inside, or 2) periodically examining plants visually (a zip-panel on the front of the cage makes moving plants in-and-out easy).
The Bug Dorm “2” is large enough to fit 2 of the 4-inch shuttle trays inside (i.e. 30 4-inch pots).
Examples of mini research projects I’ve seen growers implement on their own are:
- Rearing your own beneficial insects (e.g. Dicyphus)
- Pesticide efficacy trials, i.e. comparing the number of pests emerging after plants were treated with Chemical A in one cage, versus Chemical B in another cage
- Comparing cultural controls, e.g. head-to-head comparisons of different potting mixes/mulches for management of soil-dwelling pests
- Exluding or adding pests to help determine the source of plant damage
- Watching progress of insect populations on certain plant species/varieties, e.g. to determine the most susceptible stage of production
Where to get them:
Want to see an Entomologist geek out? Then just hand them a copy of the BioQuip Products catalog, where all things entomology-related can be bought (I’m drooling right now).