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Stacking the deck

Posted 8/13/2012 5:21pm by Shiloh Avery.

parasitized bean beetle
A Mexican bean beetle larvae parasitized by a pediobus wasp-the wasp larvae will hatch out from inside the bean beetle larvae (cool huh?)

 

Usually, the first question we get about organic agriculture is “what do you do about the bugs?”   Organic is a whole system approach to producing food that focuses on balancing the ecosystem in and around our fields and building healthy soils for healthy plants.  This mostly works for prevention of pest outbreaks.  But sometimes, we press a figurative thumb on that scale.  Sometimes, we stack the deck a bit.  Because sometimes the bad bugs just don’t seem to have received the memo!  Like the Mexican bean beetle, for example.  Balanced, they are not, my friends.  They’re just plumb out of control.  Evil minded critters seem to have their sights set on taking over the world of beans.  If we do nothing, they will defoliate our entire crop of beans.  Lucky for us though, they have a nemesis: a tiny little wasp that parasitizes the bean beetle larvae.  And wouldn’t you know it, there are whole companies out there that raise these wasps and will sell them to us!  So this year, instead of simply hoping against hope that it won’t be a bad Mexican bean beetle year, instead of just not planting beans at all, we stacked the deck.  And we swear it’s not cheating.  They are, after all, Mexican bean beetles and this is not Mexico.  So if anyone is cheating…

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