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Critter Carriers Speed Spread of Helpful Insects, MitesBy Marcia Wood
August 5, 1998
Two new devices for conveying beneficial insects and mites should boost growers' use of these critters and reduce reliance on chemical pesticides.
The Bugslinger or Aerodynamic Transport Body, and its partner in biocontrol, the Mite Meter, speed up and simplify use of beneficial organisms. Both are the work of Agricultural Research Service scientist Lyle M. Carter and his colleagues in Shafter, Calif.
The Aerodynamic Transport Body is an innovative modification of the targets used in skeet or trap shooting. Beneficial organisms such as the Aphelinus nr. paramali wasp-- which attacks cotton aphids--travel in a lightweight, biodegradable disk, launched from the edge of the field. When the disk lands, wasps fly or crawl out of a small exit. The scientists are seeking a patent.
The second apparatus, the Mite Meter, features a small, insulated tank that chills an inner bottle that can be filled with western occidental mites or other good-guy bugs. The mites attack crop pests such as Pacific spider mites, strawberry mites or two- spotted mites.
The beneficial mites travel inside the inner bottle, resting among corn grits or other "carrier" compounds. A tiny gate dispenses precise amounts of the mite-and-carrier mix onto the ground. Chilling the mites keeps them subdued, ensuring they won't move away from the gate and will be applied uniformly.
Attached to a tractor, the Mite Meter can dispense 500 to 20,000 mites per acre on up to 10 acres an hour. An article in the August issue of the agency's monthly magazine, Agricultural Research, tells more. View the article on the World Wide Web at:
Scientific contact: Lyle M. Carter, USDA-ARS Western Integrated Cropping Systems Research Unit, 17053 N. Shafter Ave., Shafter, CA 93263, phone (805) 746-8004, fax (805) 746-1619, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org