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Entomopathogenic Fungi Are the Future of Sustainable Pest Control
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Entomopathogenic Fungi Are the Future of Sustainable Pest Control

Shannon Ratliff
Shannon Ratliff
January 23, 2024
2 min

The harmonious balance of food production and the protection of environmental resources for future generations is imperative, and grows more important every day. Sustainable agriculture encompasses many efforts; maintaining soil health, conserving water, and reducing chemical inputs are just three common answers to sustainable agriculture. Preserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change is a job for every citizen of the planet, and we’re innovating beyond traditional methods to achieve the right balance.

Entomopathogenic fungi are those that can infect and kill insects. Cordyceps sinesis is the most famous of this group, and has been mythologized in the video-game-turned-show The Last of Us. Scientists are interested in how these fungi attack in order to create an eco-friendly solution to chemical pesticides. Chemical pesticides are the culprits of a load of issues, but the most common are pesticide resistance, the byproduct loss of biodiversity, and pollution.

A recent report from the Journal of Ravishankar University in Chhattisgarh, India, showcased three compelling case studies of fungi that could help naturally protect crops in the future. (1)

Diamondback moths in cabbage crops

diamondback moths fungi natural pesticides

  • Pest: The diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella, pesters the heck out of cabbage and other cruciferous crops.
  • Fungi: Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana both naturally occur in soil.
  • Results: These fungi showed promising results in field trials for reducing larval populations and protecting cabbage crops from severe damage.

Coffee berry borers in coffee plantations

coffee berry borers fungi natural pesticides

  • Pest: The coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei, is a devastating pest affecting coffee crops worldwide.
  • Fungi: Beauveria bassiana loves coffee berry borers as much as they love coffee crops.
  • Results: Field applications resulted in reduced pest damage and improved coffee yields.

Red palm weevils in date palm orchards

red palm weevil fungi natural pesticides

  • Pest: The red palm weevil runs wild in date palm orchards.
  • Fungi: Beauveria bassiana gets after red palm weevils.
  • Results: Field trials showed a reduction in pest population and damage control.

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The future in sustainable agriculture

These case studies collectively highlight the effectiveness of entomopathogenic fungi as a biological control agent in multiple agricultural settings. Fungi are natural allies that offer a powerful solution to align with environmental stewardship and agricultural efficiency.

By turning to these fungi, we can address the immediacy of pest control and the long-term vision of a resilient food system that is naturally efficient without human intervention. Biocontrol methods are a clear path forward and not just a scientific advancement, but a necessary evolution in our approach to agriculture. The health of the Earth sustains us and we cannot comprise Mother Nature for our growing population.

References

  1. Tarun Kumar Patel (2023). Entomopathogenic Fungi: Nature’s Secret Weapon Against Agricultural Pests. Journal of Ravishankar University (Part-B: Science), 36(2), pp. 109-125.DOI: https://doi.org/10.52228/JRUB.2023-36-2-8

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agriculture
Shannon Ratliff

Shannon Ratliff

Head of Content

Table Of Contents

1
Diamondback moths in cabbage crops
2
Coffee berry borers in coffee plantations
3
Red palm weevils in date palm orchards
4
The future in sustainable agriculture
5
References

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