Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tapping the Untapped and Taming the Untamed

Image :

Modern age has witnessed and is going through many changes. New discoveries are being made in every field. Biotechnology is making new breakthroughs in farming. In fact using farmer friendly insects and animals in farming is not a new idea. Since olden times, people have known about creatures that helped the farmers in one way or the other. The idea of using animal wastes in the form of manure is very old and useful. This is only one-way to show how animals prove helpful to people.

Insects are both useful as well as harmful to crops. The aphids are very minute insects and are responsible for bringing down the yield of many crops and fruit. They are minute winged creatures that suck sap or juices from the soft parts of plants like newly emerged shoots and fresh leaves. They suck them dry and leaves begin to curl and turn yellow or brown. But nature has provided useful insects like ladybirds and mantids, which feed on these pests and keep their numbers in check. A ladybird is a small rounded shaped insect from beetle family.It is usually yellowish red or deep red in colour with dark black spots on its body. It is a voracious feeder on aphids. A single ladybird forages on hundreds of aphids in a single day. The nymphs in ladybirds are even more active feeders. The increased use of chemicals and pesticides is reducing the numbers of useful insects. The pesticides may kill harmful insects but they also kill useful insects in large numbers. It is better to avoid the use of chemicals for pest control. If we learn to observe the insect activities. We come to know how useful they are to humans. Some idea may at this point of time seem fantastic and weird but they can be put to practice and may be they become very common in future. There is no harm in trying new things.

It is a fantastic idea to imagine that creatures supposed to have less developed brains can be trained to behave in a certain way. It is making things work the way they can't. It is quite weird to think of scary creatures like preying mantids become useful to serve human needs. It would be great idea to make these creatures work at our will or when and where we need them. In nature, it is common that many creatures prey upon other such creatures, which are understood to be harmful to humans. In case of plants as a major source of food for humans, this becomes a very important issue. Aphids and other leaf-eating insects do great harm to plants serving as food for humans and cattle.

An experiment to mould the behaviour of wasps to serve human needs can be performed. There are ground dwelling wasps that capture, kill and feed upon aphids and caterpillars harming human interests. A colony of such wasps near you can become a place of observation and experimentation. Try to capture pest like an aphid. Hook it onto the tip of a slender twig or stick long enough to keep you safe from too close a contact with the busy ground colonising wasps. Try to draw the bait, close to the busy entrance. The baited aphid will attract the attention of the wasps hovering about. It will be picked up and carried inside into the colony as food.

Try the same with different types of pests you consider harmful to plants. Gradually, you can try a small branch laden with pests on leaves. Bring it close to the entrance; the wasps will gladly do the job. Try to gradually increase the distance between the offered bait and the wasp nest. With passage of time, wasps will learn to detect the presence of aphids and other pests even at distance around them. You will find plants and leaves picked neat and cleaned of any pests. This experiment can serve to abandon the notorious use of chemical pesticides and adopt biological means of pest control and save the environment. It is high time to pit creatures against creatures.

As the world is witnessing more and more toxics being added to environment it is high time we pay back what we have taken away from nature. If not all we must be considerate in paying back some so that there is nothing to lose. It is time to re-create, re-define and re-live life which is more compatible to natural environment. When we cure nature it cures us and serves our needs. Helping nature is helping us.

Harjinder Singh

No comments:

Post a Comment