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Fighting Insect Pests with Insect Friends


A ladybeetle eating a pea aphid
A lady beetle devours a pea aphid. (Photo by Scott Bauer).

Insects play a diverse range of roles in ecosystems, and in agriculture. Certain insects, like aphids, can wreak havoc on plants, and farmers need solutions to protect their crops. Many conventional approaches, like spraying insecticides, are costly and come with unwanted side effects. At ARS, researchers are helping farmers by developing better approaches. One of the most promising is the use of biological controls, or biocontrols – methods of reducing the insect pest population using naturally-occurring enemies, like insects that eat or parasitize them, or pathogens that make them sick. 

Watch this video to see how farmers in Salinas, CA are using this approach to attract beneficial insects to protect their lettuce crop.