Pirates of the Carrot, Bean; Ruthless Insect Tyrants Bring Torturous End to Veggie Pests

Article excerpt

A SPECIES of tiny insect, notorious for its painful bite, is proving useful to vegetable growers in the fight against crop pests.

New Research and Development into Integrated Pest Management strategies has given vegetable growers a new weapon against insects in their crops.

AUSVEG spokesperson, Cameron Brown explained how the insect operates.

C[pounds sterling]The miniature pirate bug pierces a hole into its prey and pumps in saliva to dissolve the contents before drinking the innards,C[yen] Mr Brown said. C[pounds sterling]With a ruthless temperament, it is a new tool for vegetable growers to substitute chemicals for softer production strategies.C[yen]

AUSVEG is the national peak industry body representing Australia's 9000 vegetable and potato growers.

The 3mm-long insect, also known as Orius armatus, is named the C[pounds sterling]pirateC[yen] bug because of its large bite disproportionate to its small size.

New research has found that deploying the bug in capsicum crops dramatically reduces the need for growers to use chemicals to control pests.

C[pounds sterling]Orius armatus eats both the larvae and adults of western flower thrips, an insect known for damaging crops by both feeding and laying eggs on the plant,C[yen] Mr Brown said.

Reported in the new edition of Vegenotes, a joint study between Manchil IPM Services, the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia and Biological Services Ltd, has shown that purpose-bred species of miniature pirate bugs can effectively control western flower thrips in vegetable crops. …


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