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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Consider biological control in your garden

To the Editor:

When you walk into your garden and see a ripe vegetable ready to harvest, you get an urge to taste what you have grown. Insecticides you have applied to your garden to prevent pests from consuming your produce might stop you from actually eating it straight off the plant.

Without the use of these insecticides, the pests can reduce the amount of produce grown in your garden or even kill the whole plant. Pests in the garden are a huge problem, and spraying insecticide can be tedious and not always successful.

Insecticide also can kill off good insects, such as bees, parasitic wasps, nematodes, mantises and ladybugs. These insects naturally consume pests in your garden, and killing them will greatly reduce the biodiversity in that ecosystem. These insects consume pest insects, while these beneficial insects also feed birds and other small animals. If the predators of these pest insects are gone, the trophic interactions will be uncontrollable. The bottom line is that insecticides harm more than just the pests we intend to kill.

All gardeners should care if the beneficial insects are being killed off from the products they use on pests. Insecticides damage the trophic levels in our ecosystem by killing all of the insects, and high amounts of insecticides can affect other organisms, such as amphibians.

Pesticides are used on flower and vegetable gardens in hopes to combat the unexpected invaders, such as aphids, earwigs and mites. There are trade-offs when we use pesticides, however. We will get rid of pests for a short while, but we affect the ecosystem by not allowing proper insect interactions.

We need to change the way we think about gardening by starting to biologically control garden problems. You can biologically control your pests by having native insects interact with each other on different trophic levels to reduce your pests tremendously. You can contribute to this by buying insects native to your region from websites such as groworganic.com and plantetnatural.com to combat your pest problem.

Think about biological control the next time you need to control the pests in your garden. Biological pest control can save you money in the long run and is better for the environment. Sustainably, this pest control option will benefit the environment by bringing back trophic levels that were once lost. Do you only want healthy garden plants, or do you want to contribute to a healthy ecosystem?

Olivia Hardy

Princeton

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