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David Sparks, Ph.D. 7-24 IAN Bug Warfare
by David Sparks, Ph.D., click here for bio

Program: Today's Idaho Ag News
Date: July 24, 2013

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 One of the things that I love about my job is to be on the sidelines watching the work of brilliant people who are trying to make the world of agriculture better.

 Here is a proposition. Let’s say that you have a bug that attacks crops. One way to fight this pest is with insecticides. We all know how expensive that strategy is and what it  potentially does to the environment. What if we could find a natural enemy of the bug we want to eliminate and let it loose? This is the approach being used by Dr. Peter Shearer,  entomologist at Oregon State University. “Essentially this is a classical concept called bio-control. You go over to where the pest came from,  and you look for natural enemies that kept it in check over there.  Dr. Kim Hollmer from USDA went over to China and Korea several years ago and brought back a couple of parasitic wasps that attacked the brown marmorated stink bug eggs. Before we can release these things out into nature here in the United States, we have to make sure they don’t attack other insects and cause additional problems. So have this  insect in quarantine in several locations around the country and we are exposing this wasp, challenging this wasp with different types of stink bug eggs to see whether they will attack them or not.  With classical bio control, if can go back and find something to release here, and it works, it cuts down on pesticide sprays tremendously.

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