Todays Blue-Plate Special:
Treats for Beneficial Bugs
By Sean Adams
June 4, 1997
Pitting good guy insects
against bad bugs that attack crops may sound like a simple idea, but its
not always so simple to put into action. For starters, theres the dilemma
of raising sufficient numbers of the beneficial insects: What--and how--do you
Scientists with USDAs Agricultural
Research Service have developed an artificial diet for beneficial bugs. The
recipe calls for liver and ground beef, plus other components that can be used
to rear a variety of beneficial wasps and predators of crop pests. The
ARS scientists have applied for a patent
on the diet.
The ARS scientists next will tackle the problem of packaging the diet.
Theyll work with scientists at Analytical Research Systems, Inc., of
Micanopy, Fla., to test different types of polymer film coatings to contain and
protect servings of the diet. The scientists want to be sure the insects can
pierce the coatings and get to the food inside.
In cooperation with Predation, Inc., of Alachua,
Fla., ARS scientists have reared a parasitic wasp Diapetimorpha
introita, and a predator called the spined soldier bug, on the artificial
diet. The main stumbling block so far: relatively low egg production from adult
bugs reared on the artificial diet. The scientists are working to further
refine the diet and pinpoint the cause of the low fecundity.
Scientific contact: Patrick D. Greany, Center
for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville,
Fla., (352) 374-5763; email@example.com