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CULT: ladybugs and mantises (was CULT crickets)

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: CULT: ladybugs and mantises (was CULT crickets)
  • From: Bill Shear <bills@tiger.hsc.edu>
  • Date: Fri, 19 Sep 1997 07:38:46 -0600 (MDT)

Sorry about your ladybugs, Doreen.  The use of ladybugs and mantises as
pest control agents has been sadly oversold.  Usually the ladybugs fly away
home (or somewhere) as soon as they are released, and the mantises likewise
disperse.  In any case, both are general predators that will eat anything
in their size range, not just pests, so they are not very economical to use
in attacking single pest species.  Parasitic wasps and flies are another
story.  Because they usually have only one or a few hosts, they target the
pests and reduce their numbers.

However, eradication is not the goal of biocontrol (part of Integrated Pest
Management, or IPM).  Instead, one tries to reduce the pest population to a
tolerable level, so that the parasites keep ticking over and are there and
waiting for the next big infestation.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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