Friday, April 27, 2007

Fighting Bugs with Bugs

Almost anyone of us has probably heard the phrase: natural is best, the empirical and scientific evidence really does speak for itself.

By: Vanessa Uy

For more than thirty years, it’s well known that fighting one insect with another is a more effective and infinitely less destructive to the local wildlife community than the wholesale application of pesticides. A good example of this is the Japanese beetle infestation in the United States back in the 1960’s. The infestation was effectively checked when some 34 species of predatory and parasitic insects, all of which the Japanese beetle’s natural enemies, were imported from the Orient after favorable results from small-scale field trials.

The female wasp of genus Tiphia vernalis proved deadly effective. This wasp instinctively searches a Japanese beetle grub (i.e. young offspring) and lays a single egg into the grub. Upon hatching, the larval (i.e. young) wasp devours the Japanese beetle grub from the inside out.

An even more effective and efficient method of controlling the Japanese beetle population is the method of injecting into the soil a bacterial disease that infects the beetle’s grubs. The method is inherently safe since the pathogen evolved over time to only infect the Japanese beetle’s grubs while it is harmless to earthworms, crops, other beneficial insects and pollinators like ladybugs and honeybees, and warm- blooded animals.

Using biological methods of controlling pest population is more effective and it works out to be cheaper in the long run since it doesn’t harm the environment. Unlike the previous methods of using chemical pesticides in the DDT family which affected avian physiology. As described in Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.”

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