Biocontrol and its advantages
Chemical pesticides are traditionally used as defense against crop damage. But chemical agents can be restricted, as in the production of certified organic crops. Good reasons exist for not using chemicals (better for the health of people and planet), and the reality is that pests happen. Enter biocontrol. Biocontrol, instead of chemical sprays, uses natural pest predators to protect crops. A common example is when gardeners release lady beetles (a.k.a. ladybugs) to control aphid populations. Homeowners may also be familiar with “Mosquito Dunks®” to control mosquito populations in standing water. That treatment contains a harmless (to humans) bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, which eats mosquito larvae.
The advantages of biocontrol include:
- Treatment is specifically targeted to the pest and doesn’t harm other beneficial organisms like honeybees.
- Humans remain safe because they are unaffected by the biocontrol organism.
- No chemicals are used that might persist in the environment or migrate into drinking water.
Biocontrols can be used where chemical pesticides are restricted, such as organic growing facilities, or for crops that must meet strict standards of low chemical pesticide residue.
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