How Ladybugs Could Mean the End of Pesticide Use on Cotton Farms
Chinese environmentalists found cotton farmers could save up to $300 million annually if they control cotton pests with beetles instead of using pesticides. Known as ladybugs in the U.S. (but scientists prefer the term lady beetle), the insects are carnivorous and major predators of aphids which attack cotton farms. Rather than spending huge amounts of money on chemical insecticides, cotton aphids could be naturally eliminated with lady beetles.
Lady beetles attack and kill off aphids on a massive scale in the most natural manner. Researchers estimate a single lady beetle can destroy 50 aphids in one day, and decimate more than 5,000 aphids over its lifetime. Lady beetles are tiny and beautiful, and now their economic and environmental impact cannot be overlooked. They can save farmers millions while also protecting the environment from the effects of harmful pesticides.
Chemical Insecticides Destroy All Insects Altogether, Harm the Environment
Environmentalists judge that Chinese cotton fields are home to about 13,500 lady beetles per hectare. When the numbers of the red and black polka-dotted insects – often mistaken for bugs – are doubled on a hectare of crops, researchers find farmers earn an extra $94 per hectare. Spread those numbers and results to two-thirds of cotton industry’s acreage in China and researchers say an extra $291 million will be pumped into the economy a year.
The economic benefits of lady beetles go beyond decimating cotton aphids. They preserve the sanctity of the environment by minimizing the use of dangerous pesticides. Chemical insecticides kill off good insects as they do bad ones, and they poison the ecosystems on which crops and wildlife thrive. Pesticides equally pose huge dangers to livestock, farm workers and everyone living around farmlands where the chemicals are deployed.
Governments Should Do More to Enlighten Farmers on the Benefits of Natural Pest Controls
Pesticides are expensive and take a huge toll on the finances of large-scale farmers. With the lady beetle alternative, farmers will spend less money and instead help friendly beetles to proliferate. Sustainable agriculture is best attained the natural way when predatory insects are pitched against agricultural pests. Aiding the proliferation of lady beetles and other natural predators will systematically increase crop yields, save farming costs, and sustain the environment on the long run.
All over the world, experts are beginning to enlighten farmers on the benefits of biological pest control and the adverse effects of agrochemicals on the environment. Farmers in agricultural extension have begun to experiment with natural pest control, but the knowledge needs to spread and governments need to do more to promote biological pest controls.