Ants can be a compounding issue for growers. Although the pest doesn’t always directly impact the crop or quality, they do hinder protective measures. UC Riverside Biological Control Specialist Dr. Mark Hoddle said ants quickly became a big problem in their citrus research when releasing the parasitic wasp tamarixia radiata. Hoddle said the ants turn into fierce defenders, protecting sweet excretions that many agricultural pests produce.
Ant control is fairly limited for growers. Chlorpyrifos is slowly going away as a tool and doesn’t kill the colony queen. Current ant baits are expensive and labor-intensive.
In this episode, Hoddle talks about his team’s development of an ant bait delivered in a biodegradable hydrogel capsule made out of seaweed. Tests have been so successful that the team was issued a grant from the Department of Pesticide Regulations for finding alternatives to chlorpyrifos. Hoddle describes what else they are adding to the experiment and the future of this technique that involves automation for ant control.
Listen to the episode with Dr. Mark Hoddle.
‘Making Sense of Biologicals’ is a series from AgNet West that dives into various topics with unbiased experts in the field of biologics to help the industry better understand the product category.
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