Using Natural Predators in Farming

It\’s one of those things we\’re urged to do, isn\’t it? Instead of slathering the crops with pesticides and herbicides, we should look to integrated management, think holistically, use natural predators to control pests.

Great idea:

An insect that once held promise as a natural pest controller was branded the most invasive species in Britain yesterday by researchers.

Because it eats so many aphids, its staple diet, as well as other ladybirds, it has threatened the number of native ladybirds and species, such as lacewings, which also eat aphids. It also threatens aphid numbers. The two-spot and seven-spot ladybirds are particularly threatened.

The harlequin ladybird’s voracious appetite for aphids attracted interest in its use as a biological pest control but after it was released in several European countries in the 1980s and 1990s it rapidly became established and spread widely.

6 thoughts on “Using Natural Predators in Farming”

  1. It is actually a great idea – so long as you use only native predatotrs, and have a plan to control their numbers.

    But even after the cane toad, mongoose, etc, it seems we never learn…

  2. Complaints of this sort aren’t, well, quite stupid but come close.

    It is the fundamental “nature” of man to mess with Nature. Nothing can alter that unless, somehow, we evolve to become something more akin to rocks. The very fucking idea of a FARM is an ongoing extension of the practice of introducing alien species and assisting them to supplant the natives. Evidently, it’s a long-established behavior: temperate-zone deciduous
    forest are believed by many ecologists to be the result of repeated burnings of normal end-state
    flora by prehistoric men. Columbus is said to have tried to mollify the Spanish court by describing something he’d found–the “hot pepper” as “more valuable than gold” to mollify the fact that he’d found little of the latter. And he was right! Szechuan and Hunan cooking?
    Fiery Korean kimchi? Tomato-based Italian cuisine? Popcorn? Potatoes? Damn near everything’s an “intruding foreign species” we’ve helped establish where it didn’t “belong.”
    Including ordinary wheat, which can’t even survive in a wild state on its own.

    The long and the short of it is that exploiting the foreign species for our benefit is what we do–and an occasional fuck-up is an unavoidable concomitant. It’s right there in the Bible: it’s called “dominion.”

  3. And, lest anyone complain that the thread was about predators, think DOGS and CATS (and the multitudinous breeds of each–nonexistent but for human interference).

  4. We’ve been here before. Does anyone remember the ladybird plague of 1976, when people were literally (yes, literally) shovelling them out of barns? We seem to have escaped being eaten by the ladybird hordes in the intervening years.

  5. Yep, as JuliaM mentions, these are problems associated with introduced species, not native ones. It means that the use of predators in farming isn’t a good idea in and of itself, it all depends in what and how predators are used.

    The irony is that often the solution to an introduced species is another introduced species, normally a predator, parasite or parasitoid.

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