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Special Attack Force To Replace Pesticides?

Behind closed, quarantined doors in Ewing, New Jersey, a small army is being tested. The troops in this army have six legs, and sometimes wings.

At the Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory, entomologists with the State Department of Agriculture have been busy creating species of insects that would reduce the need for pesticides. Their current project is a pest predator for the Asian stink bug, responsible for the destruction of a number of crops- including apples, peaches, tomatoes, and lima beans- since it was introduced to the states over a decade ago.

According to an article in The Times, of Trenton, these beneficial bugs could save the public and private sector millions of dollars in pesticide costs, damage to crops, and public health. They could potentially save our waterways from pesticide pollution and, in return, help restore balance to our damaged ecosystems. If one were allowed to dream, they might even sway farmers away from genetically modified crops.

Lab scientists are also raising copepods, microscopic aquatic crustaceans, to attract and kill mosquitoes. Already, the lab has developed a type of wasp that kills the larvae of Mexican beetles- introduced to this country in the late 1930′s. The Mexican bean beetle feeds on the foliage of soy, lima, and snap beans. According to the article, the release of the biologically-controlled wasp has saved farmers thousands of dollars and reduced pesticide use.

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