We do best and live best when we look at the big picture, and act on reason and causation, not on emotion and temporary convenience. Reasoning takes more patience, effort, and training than does emotion (which is automatic) — and the results are worth if for us, those we love, and our world. (Emotion is important, and has its place, but is not the source or method of finding truth.)
We should seek biological solutions to biological problems. Using chemistry in isolation should be done only as a last, emergency result. If at all.
We find these ideas implicit in this interesting excerpt from an interesting article, Natural Predators of the Puss Caterpillar, about the toxic Asp Caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis):
For years, I’ve observed the curious fact that puss caterpillars seem to be most successfully exterminated by their own natural predators. Their infestations are models of an effective natural-predator sequence: If humans do nothing, they flourish for a short time and die, evidently because something in their natural environment utterly destroys them. Yet, if commercial pesticides are applied, the caterpillars tend to survive, usually in enough numbers to produce new infestations, often worse than before. Ergo, commercial pesticides–including the biological, “green” ones–appear to produce exactly the opposite result intended. When this happens (and it happens with regularity in nature) the wise observer looks for evidence that the pesticides are killing the target pest’s natural predators more effectively than they kill the target. Once I did that, the evidence at hand was overwhelming.Read more in the fascinating article Natural Predators of the Puss Caterpillar. The read is worth it.
Before going further, perhaps a few words should be said concerning my feelings about commercial pesticides. I’m not opposed to their use. In fact, as a pest manager who has used pesticides of various kinds for decades, I’d have a natural bias in their favor if they worked as advertised to control this particular pest.
Here’s what I know for sure: In some cases, commercial pesticides offer the best approach to resolving pest issues; in other cases they are less than effective; and in a few situations–including the one under evaluation here–they actually create more problems than they solve. Pesticides must be evaluated alongside all the other alternatives available, and once the evaluation is complete–and all the factors have been considered–the best solution is the one that works the best with the fewest complications and side effects, at the lowest cost. I add the last item, “at the lowest cost,” not because I am miserly, but because there seems to be a natural law that the cheapest solution is often the best one. At my age (I’m now on the other side of 70) that law has been tested over and over again in my life, and it has been found true many more times than it has been found wanting.
© Bugsinthenews Vol. 11:03(06)
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