Fri, Apr 10, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Flower bug set to help strawberry farmers fight pest

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER The six-legged Orius flower bugs are good news for strawberry lovers as they will help reduce the amount of pesticide in use

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Strawberry lovers and farmers will be happy to know that the Council of Agriculture yesterday unveiled a breed of Orius flower bug that is capable of eliminating strawberry thrips, a tiny insect that sucks the contents out of strawberries.

The council said the technology to breed the natural pesticide is now ready for transfer to businesses.

“By breeding hundreds of generations of the Orius strigicollis, we have developed a bug that can catch strawberry thrips and spider mites,” Miaoli District Agricultural Research and Extension Station assistant researcher Chang Guang-miao (張廣淼) said.

Thrips are one of the most common pests found on agricultural crops, including fruits, flowers and grains, Chang said. The type of Orius bug that has been bred by the research station targets strawberry thrips and spider mites, because strawberries are a major crop and widely planted in the Miaoli area, he said.

“Once a fruit has been damaged by a strawberry thrip, it either grows into an abnormal shape or hardens and loses its economic value,” Chang said.

The Orius flower bug breeds and matures very quickly so it can capture a good number of thrips and mites each day, Chang said.

“Mature female bugs can live for more than 30 days and males live for 10 days. Since each adult bug captures up to 20 thrips a day, about 300 thrips or 600 spider mites can be captured by each Orius flower bug over the bug’s lifetime,” he said.

The little six-legged bugs are also good news for strawberry lovers, as they will help reduce the amount of pesticide that farmers need to spray onto the fruits, Chang said.

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