Combined biological control tames five field pests

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Nyeri County farmer Keziah Jesse admires her tamarillo fruits on February 27,2016. Real IPM is selling a combined pest control biological spray for five crop enemies. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.

Horticultural farmers can control up to five common crop pests by a single application of a combined fungi-based biological spray from the Real Integrated Pest Management (Real IPM).

With the help of International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Real (IPM) has come up with a biological spray, MetaMix, which hosts fungi that attack and destroy the five pests within five days.

MetaMix contains Mrtarhizium anisopliae fungi which are classified into metarhizium 62, 69, and 78.

Isaac Guda, an agronomist and environmentalist at Real IPM, said while Metarhizium 69 attacks thrips, leaf miners and mealbugs, metarhizium 62 controls aphids while metarhizium 78 tames spider mites.

“Metarhizium takes three to five days to kill the pests. They are target specific; no other organism is harmed apart from the intended one. The action may not be as immediate the chemical pesticides, but the crops are protected for longer and in an environmental friendly way,” Guda said.

Spider-mites, aphids, thrips, leaf miners meal bugs are some of the most destructive crop pests that can cause more than 90 per cent losses if they reach economic thresholds.

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Farmers can determine if an economic threshold has been reached by observing the population of the leaves, for instance those of African nightshade. If more than half of the lower part of the leaf is covered by the aphids or thrips, then if quick measures are not taken, the farmer can lose the entire harvest because the economic threshold has been reached.

Heavy infestation leads to leaf curling and discolourisation due to mineral deficiency as a result of the drawing out of the food nutrients.

Tomatoes, kale, spinach, cabbage, cucumber, beans, oranges, citrus, mangoes, capsicum are among the crops attacked by a host of these pests.