My first Dragonfli blog, so I better start with a good one!
Which is why I will start with advances in biological control of pests, seeing as I have dedicated a large part of my career to it.
When I started working in the biological control industry, over 25 years ago, we had about four beneficial insects that we could recommend to professional growers to try, and only two or three crops where growers would use them. There was virtually no use of them or very little knowledge of them in gardening and hobby sectors. Wow, how things have progressed!
Dozens of different natural enemies and beneficial insects are being used by growers on a whole range of crops in the 21st century, not only on food crops, but ornamental crops too.
It is not only professional growers that benefit from these industrious bio control critters, but now also, the average gardener. Most gardeners are aware of nematodes for the control of may soil borne pests and even if they have not tried them yet, they will most likely give them a try over the next few years.
A close-up of a nematode
So why are growers and gardeners turning away from traditional insecticides?
There is no one single answer but rather a combination of factors, which I could write chapters on, but as I need to keep your attention, here is a quick summary ;
1. Supermarkets don’t like chemical residues on the food they sell, forcing growers to look for alternatives.
2. The cost of bringing new chemical insecticides to the market is enormous and highly regulated, reducing the development of new agrochemical products, especially in small markets like gardening, so that gardeners have to look to others ways to control pests.
3. Consumers are more environmentally aware and are receptive to alternatives to traditional chemical insectides.
4. Bio control works! If you are a pest insect, you cannot become resistant to being attacked or eaten by another insect!
5. Some fantastically innovative companies like Koppert Biological Systems, have taken biological control global and on a massively lower level. companies like my own, Dragonfli Ltd, have given gardeners access to some of this green technology.
One of the many exciting features of biological control is its continual evolvement and for me, the most exciting of late is the jump from controlling plant pests to controlling livestock pests.
I could not have imagined 25 years ago that we would now be looking at pest control for livestock, but it is now starting. Here at dragonfli we can now supply predatory mites for control of Red Mite on chickens and snake mite for snakes and reptiles. How amazing is that?!
I will tell you more about them in another blog, but for now keep learning and watching out for more developments in biological control – the chemical-free future of pest control.
A predatory mite attacking a red mite