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Farmers use wasps to fight pests

Abell Pest Control

While some people may view wasps as a pest, they actually may be helpful.

Vermont greenhouse farmers recently used this bug to help kill plant pests such as aphids. You can actually purchase wasps in a vial for only $40, thanks to a recent decline in price. For farmers like the Boyds, wasps are a natural solution to a big problem, and are much cheaper than pesticides.

The type of wasps used to control aphids don't harm humans. Instead, their main job is to attack the aphids. The wasps will inject the aphids they find with an ovipositor, which places a wasp egg inside the aphid. Once the egg hatches, the small wasp larvae feed on the insides of the aphid, slowly killing it. It's just as effective as a pesticide, but more natural.

An interesting bug

According to Green Methods, the wasps used in this process are only about 2 to 3 millimeters in size, and can attack more than 40 different types of aphids. If there is a strong wasp presence, they may be able to completely control the crop production. Once the parasites are inside the greenhouse, they can inject each aphid with more than 200 eggs. After hatching, the wasps slow down the movement of the aphid until they stop completely.

DJ Boyd, a farmer on the land, noted to The Deerfield Valley News that using wasps may help his farm become organic.

"We aren't using the systemics or the aerosols anymore in the greenhouses. We are not organically certified yet, but I am hoping that we will grow into that," Boyd stated to the publication.

Boyd noted that his farmers locate the aphids using sticky traps that identify hot spots of them in the greenhouses. Though Boyd admitted they still have to use some insecticides and soap to control the aphids, they don't have to use nearly as much thanks to the wasps.

Boyd has also tried to breed his own wasps using ones hatched inside aphids. He placed the larvae in a cage, let them develop and then released them into the greenhouse. This process, known as banker plant systems, can be a very smart way to recycle your resources without paying a lot of money. However, Boyd noted it was a time-consuming project so he decided to continue buying them instead, given the price drop.


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