New Website Identifies Biocontrol Bottom Line
The bottom line in business refers to a company’s profits. The bottom line in biological control refers to the benefits from use of biocontrol methods on the farm or garden. A team of tree fruit researchers has determined the bottom line for implementing biological control in orchard systems in the western U.S. The team was funded by a USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant and composed of entomologists from Washington State University (lead institution), USDA-ARS, Oregon State University, and the University of California at Berkeley. The team goal was to improve the stability of integrated pest management in apple, pear and walnut orchards by enhancing biological control.
The team developed a comprehensive online resource, enhancedbiocontrol.org, for implementing biological control in orchards. Much of the information is also applicable to other plant systems. The website includes an image gallery of beneficial insects, mites, and spiders; videos on how to implement biocontrol, including perspectives from growers and consultants; materials from a biocontrol short course, reports, and surveys; an easy-to-understand table on pesticide effects on natural enemies; a blog; and other useful information.
For example, to guide selection of pesticides that are safer to beneficial arthropods, a quick look at the pesticide effects table informs you that Delegate, a spinosyn insecticide generally thought to be reduced-risk because it is based on a bacterial toxin, is actually quite toxic to most beneficial insects and mites. In contrast, Altacor, a diamide, is safer for some predatory mites, true bugs and parasitoids, but is harsh on lady beetles and lacewings. The fungicide Kocide is generally safe to natural enemies, except not to the western orchard predatory mite. The website provides the type of information that is critical to learning how to increase the use of biocontrol in orchards and other cropping systems.
-Diane Alston, Entomologist