Notes to broadcasters
Pesticides can be harmful to human health and damaging to the environment. Millions of people are poisoned by pesticides every year, and pest problems are often made worse when the balance between beneficial and harmful insects is disturbed by applying toxic chemicals. One control strategy for small-scale farmers is biological pest control, or reducing pests using their natural enemies. This program outlines the basic ideas about natural enemies. You may wish to refer farmers to Farmer Field Schools, where farmers meet during an entire cropping season to learn about the ecology of their fields so that they can set up integrated pest management systems. There are Farmer Field Schools throughout Africa. Contact the Food and Agriculture Organization for more information:
FAO Regional Office for Africa: PO Box 1628, Accra, Ghana, Tel: (+233) 21 675000, Cable address: FOODAGRI ACCRA, Telex: 2139 FAO GH, Fax: (+233) 21 668427, Email: FAO-RAF@fao.org
Many centuries ago, Chinese farmers noticed that ants were eating the insect pests in their citrus orchards. The ants ate caterpillars, beetles and other pests. To encourage the ants to eat more pests, the farmers collected ant nests from trees in the countryside, and placed them in the orchards. The method worked! The ants were eating the pests, and keeping the pest population down. This was the first recorded example of what we now call biological pest control.
Today we know that most of the species of insects that we see in fields and gardens are not pests. In fact some of them are even doing important pest management work for you. We call these useful insects “beneficial” insects.MUSIC. MODERATE TEMPO. FADE. SOUND OF BUZZING INSECTS.
The question that most farmers are probably asking is: how do I attract these beneficial insects to my field or vegetable garden?
The best way is to grow a variety of crops and plants together. Planting a variety of plants provides food sources for beneficial insects. For example, yarrow, dill, fennel and wild mustard are attractive to beneficial wasps, beetles and flies.SOUND OF BUZZING INSECTS.
- Contributed by Belinda Bruce, researcher/writer, Vancouver, Canada.
- Adapted in part from Developing Countries Farm Radio Network Package 36, number 6, Biological pest control: reduce pests naturally.
- Reviewed by Hélène Chiasson, PhD, Codena inc., Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, Québec, Canada.
- “Monitor pests and keep records,” “Pest Management Methods,” and “Recognize and Conserve Natural Enemies.” Creating Healthy Landscapes/IPM Fact Sheets. Southeast Pennsylvania IPM Research Group, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Montgomery County, 1015 Bridge Road, Suite H, Collegeville, PA, 19426-1179.
- “What is Biological Control?” Midwest Biological Control News. Sep. 1994.
- “Using IPM and Biological Control in the Home Garden.” Midwest Biological Control News. Apr. 1995.
- “How to Manage Pests: Pests in Landscapes and Gardens, Whiteflies.” UC IPM Online. IPM Education and Publications, University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.
- “Whitefly Beware.” International Agricultural Development. Nov./Dec. 1997.
- Ebesu, Richard. Integrated Pest Management for Home Gardens: Insect Identification and Control. Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, Insect Pests, July 2003, IP-13, Cooperative Extension Service, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
- “Whiteflies in California: A Resource for Cooperative Extension.” UC IPM Publication. July 1995. University of California, Statewide Integrated Pest Management Project, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.