The indiscriminate use of pesticides is bad for the environment, bad for the final customer and bad for the farmer. They are so harmful that you should avoid them unless it is the only and last option. Moreover, it is not sustainable, because its continued use induces mechanisms of resistance in pathogens. This means that after some time using the pesticide it becomes ineffective: the bugs will survive and happily continue with their business. So please, make a rational use of pesticides if it is necessary, but give preference to other pest control methods:
- Plant resistant varieties.
- Physical barriers to keep the pests out.
- Chromatic traps.
- Biological control.
This is what I wanted to talk about. The biological control is a powerful weapon at our disposal. If you don’t know about it (as was my case 2 years ago), prepare yourself to be amazed (at least I was).
I asked a greenhouse farmer about pesticides and he told me he didn’t use any because of the bugs. Which bugs? I asked. It turns out that they started using bumblebees some years ago to polinize the plants. They soon realized that pesticides also killed the bumblebees, so they started looking for alternatives, and logically arrived at the pest natural enemies. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, they thought, and so the integrated pest control started to gain traction.
A well isolated greenhouse does not allow bugs to enter, but when one does get in, with no natural predators and plenty of food, it becomes a plague in no time. The solution to this problem many farmers use is to create a controlled ecosystem within the greenhouse, with beneficial bugs that eat the bad ones. It always sounds funny to me when farmers talk lovingly about their “swiskis” (Amblyseius swirskii).
But then second order problems arise, because maintaining a working ecosystem in an enclosed space is not that easy. You have to keep the defenders alive and fed but their food is precisely the plague we wanted to exterminate… Well, you get the idea. Auxiliary bugs shops can guide you to choose the best good friendly-bugs and to keep them healthy. Do get informed and buy local, because importing living animals is something that national customs take very seriously. And so they should, because time after time we discover that introducing foreign animals in natural ecosystems is a recipe for disaster.
Today we know hundreds of these bugs, and I will write about a few of them in my next post.