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Alternative Pest Control Options

Alternative Pest Control MethodsThere are many alternative pest control measures available to us. A few non pesticide types of pest control include: biological controls, pheromones and hormones, reproductive controls and genetic controls. The need for mass pest control in relation to agriculture is in part due to the mono-agriculture method used by many farmers. When a farmer chooses to only focus on one massive crop they are limiting the type of good bugs that would naturally curtail the population growth of “bad” bugs. For instance, on organic farms that include a large variety of flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables which attract a large variety of insects, amphibians and birds that help control the number of each other within this agricultural area.

Unfortunately, by only focusing on one crop, the farmer is only attracting a small variety of insects, birds and amphibians and the insects that turn into pests are not kept under control my natural means. By implementing an integrated pest management system farmers are able to fully utilize natural hedges or tree lines to encourage predator insects, amphibians and birds while minimizing the use of chemical pesticides. Irradiating foods by exposing it to ionizing radiation in order to prevent insects and other pests from damaging it is another alternative being used. I personally do not believe this is a healthy alternative.

One of the most interesting alternative pest control measures I have recently learned about is sterilizing the screwworm fly that was a major pest of cattle in the United States. Three states undertook the mission to figure out how to obliterate this pest completely. They created large factories that would produce large numbers of male larvae, they would allow the larvae to gorge themselves on pureed meat in a middle trough area. Along the side of the trough was a conveyor belt. As the larvae finished consuming the meat in their area, they would wander over to the conveyor belt looking for its next meal. The conveyor belt takes the larvae through a radiation chamber that sterilizes them. Upon growing from their larvae form into the fly form, they are released into the wild to mate with wild female flies. Since the females are mating with sterile male, they are not able to produce offspring and die out.  My entomology teacher explained that recently a few of these flies were reintroduced in Florida in 2016, but were quickly wiped out using this same method. Unfortunately, the below cited articles goes on to encourage genetically modified flies, which I believe would only cause more problems.


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