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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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New Device Leaves Pests Strung Out

By Tara Weaver
May 8, 1998

A new patented device that loads beneficial insect eggs onto strings that are draped onto plants will help growers cut insecticide use, according to Agricultural Research Service scientists.

The loader attaches eggs of predaceous or beneficial insects such as green lacewings. Lacewing larvae munch on harmful insects that damage agricultural crops ranging from grapes to cotton, barley, citrus, pecans and even Christmas trees. The egg-loaded string is part of ongoing research to find new biological control methods. Farmers and companies can use biological controls to reduce reliance on chemical insecticides that can be hazardous to the environment and destroy beneficial insects.

The new device is timely, since there is no practical way to deliver large quantities of predaceous insects onto pest-infested plants. Growers must now manually shake lacewing eggs from a container onto plant foliage. But lots of eggs are wasted, some falling on the ground and others eaten by predators.

Since the string is laid on plant tops, it won’t blow away. The string intertwines with plants, but doesn’t prevent their growth. Another benefit of the new device is that it cuts down on the time required to apply eggs to plants. Growers can attach the device to field equipment and cut the string to whatever length they need.

ARS scientists say the invention is ideal for small-scale plant growers and greenhouse operators. But it’s also available for large-scale development and use.

Scientific contact: John L. Blythe and Walker L. Tedders (retired, ARS consultant), ARS Southeast Fruit and Nut Research Unit, Byron, Ga., phone (912) 956-6447 [Blythe], (912) 987-8805 [Tedders], fax (912) 956-2929.

Licensing contact: Gail E. Poulos, Office of Technology Transfer, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-6558, fax (301) 504-5060,

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