IPM in Beauval’s stunning new equatorial dome

29/06/2020 - Having worked with the team at ZooParc de Beauval to provide IPM for its tropical greenhouses, Biobest is now playing a key role keeping pests at bay in the stunning new Equatorial Dome - completed earlier this year. 

Situated in Saint-Aignan, in the Loir-et-Cher department of the Loire region in France, Beauval is renown as one of the world’s most beautiful zoos. Set up 40 years ago by Francoise Delord, it started out as an ornithological park. Today, the stunning 40-hectare site is home to over 10,000 animals and birds of more than 800 species.  

Unique glasshouse

For its 40th anniversary, Rodolphe Delord - general manager and son of the founder - commissioned a unique 1-hectare glass equatorial dome. Home to over 200 animal species, this striking structure provides visitors with an immersive 2-hour trip around the equator. 

“With many years’ experience working with the Beauval team to develop successful IPM strategies for its tropical greenhouses, we are very closely involved in planning and implementing biocontrol programmes for the new dome,” explains Biobest biocontrol expert Vincent Berruet. 

Rich tropical plant mix

“In contrast to a commercial monocrop, this vast glasshouse structure houses a rich mix of tropical plants species which presents plenty of additional challenges. The sheer height of the dome and size of some of the plant specimens creates practical issues regarding scouting, monitoring and dispensing controls into the canopy. Home to an array of birds and animals, and open to visitors 365 days a year, we can’t fall back on conventional chemical treatments.”  

A dedicated in-house team of three look after the flora in the dome and manage the IPM programmes on a day-to-day basis. Vincent has delivered specific training to hone their pest monitoring and IPM skills and they have specialist equipment to reach the summit of the larger specimens. 

“We always have to be mindful that we are in an exceptional setting,” he says. “With birds flying freely in the dome we have to be careful not to trap them in the Bug-Scan traps. We have to adapt – for example, where there is hot spot of pest mites on a very large plant specimen we introduce predatory mites in breeding sachets, these hold the material correctly on the plant. We only use Delta traps for Lepidopterae

Wide pest spectrum

“As you would expect, we encounter a wide spectrum of pests - some more unusual than others. The main ones are different mealybug species, plus scale insect, mites, whiteflies, thrips and aphids. “   

Mealybug can be particularly problematic in tropical settings and Vincent is pleased with the level of control being achieved. “Thanks to good detection and a well thought out strategy, mealybug is being well managed with our Cryptolaemus-L-System,” he says. “Meanwhile, scale is a pest you have to know how to live with.”  

Tailored control programmes

Devising workable control solutions involves implementing a carefully tailored programme of biological controls including Cryptolaemus-L-System, Encarsia-System, Phytoseiulus-System, Aphidoletes-System and Aphidius-System

“The key is to achieve a balance in the dome,” explains Vincent. “The biological control doses are regularly reviewed and changed according to observations made by the in-house team and following my technical visits. 

“In the past I use to visit Beauval perhaps three to four times a year to oversee strategies in the tropical greenhouses. With the dome, I’m making more frequent visits as we work to establish a new strategy to fulfil the specific needs of the plant displays in this truly unique structure.

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