The Business of Beneficial Bugs | KCET
The Business of Beneficial Bugs
When dealing with insect pests, Jan Dietrick and Ron Whitehurst have a simple solution: add more bugs.
The two environmental activists run Rincon-Vitova Insectary, one of the oldest bug farms in Ventura. Whitehurst is a trained biologist that believes that many bug problems can be dealt with by using natural predators. Or by adding a few flowing bushes in the right place. The tiny Australian spalangia wasp, for example, is one of their best sellers and used to reduce fly populations.
Rincon-Vitova clients include zoos, stables and organic growers that need to minimize chemical pesticide use. But Dietrick says that she’s been getting more calls from panicked growers that have oversprayed and are now faced with pesticide resistant bugs.
Resistance is a growing global problem but not a new one. Conservationist Rachel Carson warned about pesticide resistance back in the 1950’s and recommended the use of biological pest control alternatives such as beneficial bugs. In fact, successful beneficial bug use in California agriculture goes back to the nineteenth century. A tiny black beetle from Australia saved California citrus crops from an unwelcome invader from South Asia called the California red scale, an armored insect that favors the leaves, twigs and fruit of citrus trees. Dietrick sells the same ladybird beetle used in the 1888 since scale pests have recently become resistant to modern pesticides.
"There's no resistance to predators. That's why beneficial bugs work. But the chemical pesticide companies might have you think otherwise," says Dietrick who believes that more education is needed. She and Whitehurst regularly visit schools with boxes of bugs that students can touch. "People get afraid of insects from a young age and don't see any value in them. We like to show the kids that bugs are part of the productive world that we live in, and that they can be helpful."
Second camera and produciton assistance: Marie Targonski-O'Brien
The coronavirus death toll in Los Angeles County nearly doubled today, reaching a total of 21, while another 421 cases were confirmed, a sharp rise the county's health director attributed to a significant increase in testing.
After seven weeks of a citywide shut-down, ordered in an attempt to stamp out the deadly Spanish Flu, the "influenza ban" had finally been lifted by city leaders.
These moves give us a glimpse of what the future could hold: voting during a pandemic, when election officials have to weigh the risks of gathering at polling places versus the need to make voting accessible to everyone.
As of March 23, about 5,700 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Los Angeles county, with a population of more than 10 million.
An investigation reveals how the state and many cities have let developers get away for decades with not paying their fair share when they replace affordable lodging with luxury hotels up and down California’s coast.
A Humboldt town is polarized over allegations of racism and police incompetence surrounding the death of college student Josiah Lawson.
As California deals with the fallout of a global waste crisis, plastic manufacturers continue to spread misleading information about recycling, while spending big on lobbying efforts to keep their products on the shelves.
For decades Los Angeles has lived in the shadows of New York and Chicago when it comes to the jazz, but that's now changing. LA's jazz scene is on the upswing. Meet the people, places and sounds that are putting LA jazz back on the map.
Chopped down trees, unspent money, building homes thirty feet from the freeway: Is the city of Los Angeles falling down on the job when it comes to certain environmental policies? Socal Connected investigates.