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Farmers and Insects

How do farmers get help from a friendly beetle?

What do you see when you think of peaches, apricots, and plums? Beautiful fruit thatís delicious to eat? If you were a farmer, you might see something else as well, like bothersome pests that damage your crops.

Aphids, also known as plant lice, are sucking insects that can transmit several viral diseases to plants. Different varieties attack and devastate crops of potatoes, cotton, almonds, and even flowers like tulips and roses. Unmanaged, aphids can spell big trouble for plants, but harsh chemical pesticides can be expensive and might introduce other complications like damaging nearby crops or killing friendly insects. For hundreds of years some farmers have relied on an alternative treatment thatís safe, easy, and most of all, effective.

ladybug eating aphid Ladybugs or ladybirds are more than just cute, little, red beetles with dots on their wings; theyíre also a great way to manage aphids. Ladybugs are scientifically known as coccinellids. They are members of the family Coccinellidae among about 4,500 other species of insects. For hundreds of years, farmers have used their ability to attack and eat aphids as a natural form of pest control. Another term for using the enemies of pests in this way is biological control. By releasing lady bugs as a biological control agent, the harmful abilities of aphids can be managed.

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