It’s no secret that pest control costs can add up for businesses that absolutely must invest in services. The Guardian reported that pesticides are currently costing about $90 billion USD in illness within sub-Saharan Africa, which is forcing some companies to find new ways to deter pests.
Pesticides are mostly used on very large farms that export their crops. Yet the average farmers with smaller crops have to pay far more to use government-approved pesticides and may choose more harmful substances instead; further, these chemicals tend to be improperly stored, which also contributes to the spread of illness in the area.
When the pesticide carbofuran was finally banned in 2008 for being too dangerous, it was wake up call for researchers. They began looking for other ways to handle pests.
A new device may help do just that. It’s a type of acoustic disruptor which basically consists of a buzzer and microphone.
The device detects the male call of an insect or other pest, and it sends out a false female call in return. When the male approaches the buzzer in an attempt to find the female, it is trapped to an adhesive strip and later collected.
Each device would have a range of about two feet around something like a citrus tree. While it may be an expensive initial investment, the long term decrease in cost is well worth the sacrifice. Pests like cockroaches spend about 75% of their time dormant, surviving even in about 32 degree weather, so having a device like this to draw them out could be beneficial.
Another method is picking a better natural challenger to pests, like spiders. A recent study looked at the difference between lively spiders and last spiders in a field test. They say the personality of the spiders are integral to success.
Ecologists Raphaël Royauté of North Dakota State University and Jonathan Pruitt of the University of Pittsburgh looked at the personalities of wolf spiders, which are common in crop fields and generally hunt bugs.
Their study, in essence, tested how lively each spider was and then watched how it affected the prey the caught. Their conclusion? It stays unpredictable.
But the study’s authors do warn farmers that pesticides hurt the active spiders more than the inactive ones. By using such chemicals, farmers can actually hurt the things that could naturally help them out.