WEB TEXT: Killing Bugs Softly

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Science  05 Mar 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5663, pp. 1445b
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5663.1445b

Many farmers respond to an outbreak of destructive alfalfa weevils by pouring on the pesticides. But using chemicals to control insects exacts a health and environmental toll, so scientists have developed alternative control strategies, called integrated pest management (IPM). This growing Web text, edited by entomologists Edward Radcliffe and William Hutchison of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, boasts more than 60 chapters on the theory and practice of IPM, which can involve everything from introducing the pest's natural enemies to altering harvest times to disrupt its life cycle.

Readers can check up on efforts to breed wheat plants that are resistant to the ruinous Hessian fly or download a model that predicts the consequences to a pest population of releasing swarms of sterile individuals. The text also offers background chapters on pest ecology and on different kinds of pesticides, as well as synopses of measures to protect particular crops. For example, alfalfa weevils have been controlled by releasing tiny wasps that parasitize the troublemakers.


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