Nature s way: natural predators
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CTA. 2000. Nature?s way: natural predators. Spore 89. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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With growing interest in biological control, it is time to take stock of recent successful experiences in the use of living organisms to prevent or minimise damage caused by insect pests.In Jamaica, a beetle known as the coffee berry borer...
With growing interest in biological control, it is time to take stock of recent successful experiences in the use of living organisms to prevent or minimise damage caused by insect pests. In Jamaica, a beetle known as the coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) causes considerable losses in coffee plantations each year. In a pilot project, 25,000 hymenoptorous (membrane-winged) insects (Cephalonomia stephanoderis) were released in the plantations to attack the coffee berry borer s larvae. Results have been positive and now plans are being made to release another insect the Phymasticus caffea to attack the adult pests. In the northern Pacific, the major trouble-maker is the azalea whitefly (Aleurodicus dispersus), which thrives during periods of drought and attacks a multitude of plants. Its proliferation can be halted by a wasp (Encarsia haitiensis) which feeds on its larvae. Wasps are in favour in Papua New Guinea too, in particular the Trichogramma plassyensis which has been released en masse to parasite the eggs of the maize borer (Ostrinia furnacalis). Special training has even been provided to extension workers in the use of another wasp, Diadegma semiclausen, to attack cabbage pests, cabbage being a widely grown crop on the high plateaus. In South Africa, worms have been left to get on with biological control and eat worms. The microscopic nematode worms feed by perforating plant cells. In sugar cane plantations, another type of worm, Helicotylenchus dihystera, have been use to control them and minimise damage. In Senegal, a bacterium (Pasteuria penetrans) is being tested to parasite the gall nematodes (Meloidogyne spp) which ruin market garden vegetables. Progress is being made in the best conditions for this bacterium to develop, such as mixed cultivation of vegetables, groundnuts and cereals, and the preferred composition of the soil, which is ideally sandy, with 10% clay content. All in all, biocontrol is scoring a lot of points.
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