About WyeBugs WyeBugs - History and Personnel  

Throughout the 1970s and 80s the Entomology Group at Wye College, University of London distributed biological control agents produced as part of their research projects to professional growers and amateur horticulturalists. These biocontrols were mainly predators and parasites of mealy bugs and soft scale insects, in particular the Australian ladybird Cryptolaemus montrouzieri and the parasitoid wasps Leptomastix dactylopii and Metaphycus helvolus.

In the late 1980s the group had the vision of biocontrol being used as a first choice for pest control by amateur gardeners - but that required a source of reasonably priced biocontrols packaged in quantities small enough for even a single 10' x 8' greenhouse. In 1991 we launched WyeBugs at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, offering a full range of biocontrols by mail order for as little as £3 per pack. We produced the renowned WyeBugs Biological Control Handbook, which demystified the science behind the technique and gave home horticulturalists access to some of the knowledge previously only enjoyed by professionals. Our service to commercial customers was also enhanced, offering despatch direct to their customers under their own brand names.

Once the retail biocontrol market had been proved viable, due in no small part to WyeBugs, other companies joined the scene and offered glossy catalogues and credit card facilities. As we still had our main task of scientific research, we handed over the retail side of WyeBugs to those better able to cope with the burgeoning demand. WyeBugs continued, as it still is today, to be a major producer and distributor of biocontrols for mealy bug, scale insect and other pests, supplying both professional and retail outlets.

It wasn't only biocontrol that occupied the entomology team at Wye during this period, however. They also built excellent links with non-agricultural industries, doing experimental work on insect repellents and attractants. This work encompassed the fields of domestic pests and life-threatening disease carriers such as mosquitoes. The group gained a reputation for producing commercial information rapidly and cost-effectively, but with scientific thoroughness and accuracy uncompromised.

In 2000 Wye College was merged with Imperial College London and became the Wye Campus of that institution. In summer 2002 the entomologists responsible for WyeBugs decided to leave higher education and launch a fully fledged commercial enterprise. WyeBugs is based on the Imperial College campus at Wye, with access to the College's glasshouse and experimental facilities as well as their own.

The development of WyeBugs as a comprehensive entomological research and development service was further enhanced in the summer of 2005 when we were granted certification by the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) as an 'Officially Recognised Testing Facility / Organisation' (ORETO 190). With the expansion of our team we are now able to offer our clients a pesticide efficacy evaluation trials service able to evaluate a wide range of plant protection products.


mealy bugs
Above: Citrus mealy bug Planococcus citri

Below: Soft scale Coccus hesperidum 
soft scale

WyeBugs Personnel

Dr Mike Copland

Mike picMike came to what was then Wye College in 1970 as Lecturer in Zoology, having obtained a BSc in Zoology and PhD degree at University College, Swansea on reproductive anatomy of parasitic wasps. His interests in parasitic Hymenoptera, particularly chalcid wasps led him to develop a research programme in biological pest control initially concentrating on pests in heated glasshouses. As he rose to Senior Lecturer in Entomology the work broadened to encompass a wide range of predatory and parasitic insects found in the UK and tropical field crops. This led to a focus on the application of empirical methods to assess the suitability of potential beneficials. A keen interest in technology saw his group develop innovative experimental techniques using computers for both environmental control and video-based behaviour analysis. Recent work has also covered the study of insect attractants and repellents and plant/insect signalling. A full list of Mike's publications can be found here. Mike currently lectures to the students on the MSc course in Integrated Pest Management at the Silwood Park Campus of Imperial College London

Suzanne Stickels

Sue picSue joined the Zoology department at Wye College in 1976 as technician. As well as involvement in the College's teaching activities at both under- and post-graduate levels, she was responsible for the entomology group's experimental insect cultures. When WyeBugs was launched she also took on the job of co-ordinating the administration for the operation and ensuring the smooth despatch of all the orders. In her "spare" time Sue continued studying, and in 1999 gained a 2.1 Honours degree from the Open University. Sue has overall responsibility for most of the insect cultures at WyeBugs, carries out many of the tests and trials, and also still deals with orders and despatch.

Janet Astles

Jon picJanet joined Wye in 1971 as a Research Technician in Biology and Chemistry becoming Chief Technician in 1984 a role she maintained after merger until retirement in 2002. Janet’s earlier research work focussed on the activity of natural and synthetic plant growth hormones and the development of selective herbicides while later working on Verticillium wilt and Bremia downy mildews and maintaining the Department’s fungal culture collection. At WyeBugs Janet looks after our cultures of spider mites, mealybugs and their predators and parasites as well involving herself with our various trial work. Janet is an invaluable source of information on the safety and legal aspects of chemical handling, stores and laboratory maintenance.

Dr Roshan Heidari

Roshan spent 10 years as Middle East Manager of Technical Division of Rhone-Poulenc agrochemicals involved in registration trials, experimentation and development. He obtained his PhD degree at Wye studying the biology of Cryptolaemus and subsequently became an honorary Research Fellow there.

Richard Bucknall

Richard is the latest member of the WyeBugs team, joining in 2005 with a background in biological control trials and quality control work. His main role within the team is in our pesticide efficacy trials work. Richard has a first class honours degree in Commercial Horticulture from the University of Greenwich and an M.Sc in Integrated Pest Management from Imperial College London Silwood Park.

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