- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Let's hear it for biocontrol.
You've seen lady beetles, aka ladybugs, preying on aphids.
But have you seen an assassin bug attack a spotted cucumber beetle?
How about a crab spider munching on a stink bug?
All biocontrol, part of integrated pest management (IPM).
If you access the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) website or more specifically, this page, you'll learn that "Integrated pest management, or IPM, is a process you can use to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. IPM can be used to manage all kinds of pests anywhere–in urban, agricultural, and wildland or natural areas."
Or, UC IPM's more in-depth definition:
"IPM is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment."
Think of biocontrol as beneficial: "Biological control is the beneficial action of predators, parasites, pathogens, and competitors in controlling pests and their damage. Biological control provided by these living organisms (collectively called "natural enemies") is especially important for reducing the numbers of pest insects and mites, but biological control agents can also contribute to the control of weed, pathogen, nematode or vertebrate pests."--UC IPM
Yesterday we witnessed an incredible case of biocontrol in action.
At Bodega Bay's Doran Regional Park, Sonoma County, we spotted a great blue heron stepping stealthily through a thatch of ice plant in the Jetty campground. It was 6:30 in the morning. As campers slept in their recreational vehicles a few feet away, the great blue heron just kept stepping silently through the ice plant. One step. Another step. And another.
And then it happened. Its long sharp beak speared a rodent. Yes, they eat rodents. It crunched the body from head to toe, breaking the bones, and then swallowed it whole.
Not a pretty picture, but a simple case of biocontrol, compliments of a hungry heron.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
That's one of the topics when the Northern California Entomology Society meets on Thursday, Nov. 1 from 9:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District, 155 Mason Circle, Concord.
The group, comprised of university faculty, researchers, pest abatement professionals, students and other interested persons, will gather at 9:15 a.m. for registration and coffee.
First on the agenda is Kipling “Kip” Will, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM), UC Berkeley, who will discuss “The Transition from Classical Alpha Taxonomy to Beta Taxonomy of Insects” at 9:30 a.m.
Nick Mills, professor of insect population ecology at ESPM and curator of UC Berkeley’s Essig Museum of Entomology, will cover “Important Considerations When Contemplating Biological Control of Pests” at 10:15 a.m.
Speaking at 11 a.m. will be Carlos Argurto, Pestec Integrated Pest Management Provider, San Francisco, on “Contra Costa County IPM Program, Including New DPR (Department of Pesticide Regulation) Regulations for Surface Water Protection in Outdoor Non-Agricultural Settings.”
A luncheon catered by Kinder’s Custom Meats will be served at noon for a cost of $20 per person. (Advance reservations must be made with Nor Cal Entomology Society treasurer Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (530) 752-047.)
The afternoon session will include research entomologist Patrick Moran of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Albany, speaking at 1:15 on “Using Insects to Control Invasive Weeds in California.”
The last speaker of the day is Stephen Colbert of DuPont Crop Protection, Escalon. At 2 p.m., he will discuss “What’s Behind the Label?” Colbert is active in the California Weed Science Society, based in Salinas.
The society meets three times a year: the first Thursday of February at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), Sacramento; the first Thursday of May in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis; and the first Thursday of November in the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District conference room, Concord.
Membership is open to the public; dues are $10 year, said society president Robert “Bob” Case of Concord, retired deputy agricultural commissioner from the Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture.
If you're interested in joining, contact Mussen at email@example.com.