Meet the superheroes of the insect world: “pirate bugs” that feast on thrips, aphids and other tiny pests that destroy and infect food crops.
Single-mindedly devoted to their mission, these beneficial predators have allowed Israeli farmers in the Arava region of the Negev Desert – where 60 percent of Israel’s fresh vegetable exports originate – to cut their use of chemical pesticides by about 80 percent.
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Nearly every one of the 120 farmers in the Arava’s Moshav Ein-Yahav, one of the largest farming villages in Israel, uses this form of biological pest control, a.k.a. integrated pest management (IPM). Ein-Yahav collectively produces about 34,000 tons of peppers, watermelons, melons, tomatoes and other vegetables in protected greenhouses, net houses and tunnels. Half are exported.
“We usually use natural enemies to eat insects that cause damage, and if we do spray it’s only on a small scale for the one or two plants with high infestation,” says Rami Sadeh, a farmer and staff agronomist at Yofi Shel Yerakot (Beauty of Vegetables), the company that markets most of Ein-Yahav’s produce along with citrus fruit, lettuce, cabbage, carrots and potatoes grown elsewhere in Israel.
“It costs us more money per dunam, but we can sleep well knowing we are not using chemicals,” the father of four tells ISRAEL21c.
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Via Israel 21c
Photo: Pixabay (public domain)