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Why are some natural enemies packaged in vermiculite?


Written by Kevin van Kester | Last update: 15-10-2020

Natural enemies are a product of live material. This requires a special method of packaging. Packing methods for some natural enemies - including predatory mites, predatory bugs and gall midges – involves the use of vermiculite. In this article, our specialist explains more about the benefits of vermiculite for packaging natural enemies.  

Benefits of vermiculite 

Vermiculite is a mineral resource substance (a type of rock) with various properties that contribute to the quality and application of the product. It prevents mold formation, ensures a good moisture balance in the packaging, provides aeration and space and makes a product easier to sprinkle. 

Mold prevention 

Mould can have a negative effect on biological pest control, especially on the outcome of pupae. That is why vermiculite is often chosen as carrier material; this is an inert material. This means that it contains no nutritional value on which fungi or bacteria can grow. 

Moisture balance and clump formation

The main function of vermiculite for packaging natural enemies is to regulate moisture levels during storage, transport and possibly during application (in case of pupae that have yet to hatch in the greenhouse). It also provides a drinking water supply for the organisms. Vermiculite works as follows: when heated, it pops just like popcorn. This creates a very light grain with high moisture-containing levels. This is very important for natural enemy organisms because both too high as well as too low moisture levels will affect them negatively. If moisture levels are too low, this will lead to higher mortality rates from dehydration, but if the moisture content is too high, this can lead to condensation in which the biological pest control organisms can drown. Also, too much moisture can cause clump formation (which complicates the scattering of a product) and provides more opportunity for fungal or bacterial growth.< 

Each natural enemy prefers a different ideal moisture percentage and is therefore combined with a specific type of vermiculite to match. This contributes to maintaining the quality of products during transport and storage. When other components in the product already have a naturally fairly high humidity level, dry vermiculite can act precisely to make the carrier material clump less quickly. 

Air and space for biological pest control organisms 

Another important function of vermiculite is to create an optimal environment for the natural enemies. In particular, the size of the vermiculite grains plays a role here. The correct size ensures that the organisms have enough air and space while in the packaging. A larger grain provides more air and space, but can also lead to pressure due to its weight. Therefore, different sizes of vermiculite are used.

Distribution ability 

Vermiculite also makes it easier to distribute or scatter the product. The size of the grains and the amount of vermiculite compared to other components are also important. By adding vermiculite to smaller packaging, such as a bottle of MACROcontrol,the contents can be distributed over various distribution points. With larger products, such as a bag of MONcontrol Chrysanthemum, vermiculite ensures that the product can be distributed properly across the crop with the Biospreader

More information about vermiculite

Do you have questions about the use of vermiculite after reading this article, or would you like individual advice? Please contact Kevin van Kester by using the form below. We will contact you as soon as possible – on weekdays, within 24 hours.

Kevin KesterAbout Kevin van Kester

Kevin van Kester, specialist in the area of quality management of biological pesticides, has been working with Royal Brinkman since 2013. On the basis of IOBC-guidelines, he structurally monitors the quality of organic products of various producers throughout Europe. "My motivation consists of contributing to higher efficiency of the biological pest control, as such, due to which fewer chemical treatments are required."

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