Natural Pest Control Restores Nature’s Balance

August 13, 2010

 

Nobody works harder at the San Bernardo Greenhouse in Zarcero than the bumblebees. The rotund insects flit from one tomato plant to the next. Pollen sticks to their legs as they invade yellow flowers in search of nectar.
Milena Chinchilla plucks one of the tiny grape tomato flowers and inspects it for bites. These are her bumblebees, and she wants to make sure the buzzing bugs are getting the job done. She looks for tiny bite marks on the flower, a sign that the busy bees have been nibbling and, therefore, pollinating the plant. While searching for nectar, the pollen sticks to the legs of the bee and is carried to the next tomato flower, fertilizing the plant.
Chinchilla works for a company known as Reflex, a distributor for Koppert, a Dutch company that breeds biological controls. These controls – bees or predatory insects – help fertilize plants or control outbreaks of pests in a manner that is more in tune with nature.
 
This type of natural fertilization performed by the bumblebees can have major benefits for the tomato farm.
 
“The pollination of the fruit causes the fruit to have a better taste. Better weight and more seeds,” said Paulo Blanco, president of the Producers Association in Zarcero’s Protected Environment (Apromeco), which has 16 enormous greenhouses in Zarcero.
 
A higher number of seeds means larger, rounder tomatoes, Blanco explained. The heavier the tomato the more they can be sold for in the United States, where all of Apromeco´s tomatoes are sent.
 
Although not organic (pesticides that don’t harm the desired insects are sometimes used), Reflex and other biological control companies intend to limit pests by letting Mother Nature do most of the work. Pesticides can lead to bugs building up a resistance to chemicals throughout multiple life cycles. Biological controls eliminate that possibility. 
For more on this story, see the August 13 print or digital edition of The Tico Times.

You may be interested

Costa Rica’s snakebite research pioneers save lives worldwide
Changemakers
121 views
Changemakers
121 views

Costa Rica’s snakebite research pioneers save lives worldwide

Mitzi Stark - May 23, 2018

The Clodomiro Picado Institute is spread along the main road of Dulce Nombre de Coronado, northeast of San José. Its…

Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby
sports
220 views
sports
220 views

Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby

Ellen Zoe Golden - May 22, 2018

A three-part look at adaptive surfing in Costa Rica. Read Part I here to learn how a Central Pacific coach is…

Costa Rica launches Pride Connection network
Human rights
274 views
Human rights
274 views

Costa Rica launches Pride Connection network

Elizabeth Lang - May 22, 2018

As Costa Rica continues to grapple with the disagreements about marriage equality and gender identity that dominated the second round…