Monday, March 31, 2008

Field Trip

The Gesneriad Society's chapter here in the Twin Cities took a very interesting field trip to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Biological Control Laboratory on Sunday the 30Th. The facility sounds very interesting for the person wishing to learn more about how to take care of pest problems using a more "green" approach. A guest blogger was there to fill us in on more of the details.
The Twin Cities Chapter of the Gesneriad Society toured the Mn Department of Agriculture's Biological Control Program. Neil Cunningham discussed the various common bug problems and ways to control or get rid of them. He had an interesting talk that included putting petri dishes under a projection microscope with the bugs still crawling around! The microscope was attached to a computer, which in turn was put on a screen for everyone to see. He showed very large pictures of blossom thrips, red spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, fungus gnats and scale. He explained how the use of predacious insects would be useful in controlling pest insects. The predators eat bugs but will only live on the "bad" bugs or their eggs. The predators will not do any damage to the plants. To learn more, go to the Department of Agriculture's website that is at MN Department of Agriculture They order their supplies from the Green Methods company. This site if full of interesting information about "good bugs" and how to use them for control of plant pests whether in the home, garden or for agricultural situations.

He also took us into the greenhouse and gave a demonstration of applying the predators to a plant infested with aphids. It was an exciting afternoon. As we see that we are having more and more impact on the environment around us, it's good to find new and effective ways to deal with pests with less use of toxic substances!

I'm excited to have this for a resource and I thank the Gesneriad Club for giving us the contact information. I personally intend to use more biological control in the flower beds this year because I'm encouraging bees and butterflies to the yard and I don't want to harm them after working hard to attract them. Besides anything you put on your yard comes into contact with your pets, children and ultimately runs off into the water system. I don't want to drink some of that stuff......

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