Swapping Pesticides with Beetles Could Put Money in Farmers’ Pockets

By Wei Zhang. Reblogged from Agrilinks.

34096134693_27bfc1e954_bEvery time you see a ladybug—also known as the ladybird beetle—you should tuck it in your wallet as a lucky charm to bring prosperity, according to the folklore of many countries. There’s a grain of truth in the old stories. Research shows that each ladybird in a cotton field in the North China Plain provides an economic benefit to farmers of at least 0.05 yuan, or one U.S. cent. This may not sound like much, but consider: Doubling the current ladybird density in two-thirds of Chinese cotton fields could bring farmers around $300 million per year.

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Update: Plant Health News (09 Sep 15)

Weaver ants work as colonies to feed on crop pests, providing effective control © Troup Dresser, via Flickr
Weaver ants work as colonies to feed on crop pests, providing effective control © Troup Dresser, via Flickr

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the researchers attempting to prevent pest beetles entering avocado crops in Mexico,  the use of weaver ants in pest control to reduce pesticide use and the colonisation of crops such as lettuce with secondary pathogens.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Vector control goes viral

Bird cherry-oat aphid, a significant vector of barley yellow dwarf virus in wheat. Credit: David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Whether it’s measles, mumps or just the common cold, we’ve all suffered from a virus at some point, and so do crops. While we might try to avoid the person coughing and sneezing in the corner, the problem with many viruses (both human and plant) is that those carrying the disease are not always obvious. Attaching a large, neon sign to an infected human would probably be considered slightly unethical, but pointing out the most virulent plant disease carriers is exactly what new research will enable scientists to do to vectors like aphids and whiteflies.

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