India, a world leader in grape cultivation, is breaking new ground in their effort to begin exporting their juicy products to Europe. Indian farmers looking to cultivate the high-quality grapes needed for export have a powerful, new, and sustainable tool at their disposal. Instead of fighting nature by blasting their vines with harmful pesticides – which can leave perfectly good grapes unsuitable for export – farmers can now use nature’s own method to control the mealybugs that feast on their grapes’ juices: other bugs.
BioBee, a pioneer in the revolutionary field of biologically-based Integrated Pest Management (IPM), has found some of nature’s best solutions to combating the pernicious mealybugs. The first is the Cryptolaemus, a Lady Bird bettle-like predatory beetle who is commonly known as the mealybug destroyer. The second is the Anagyrus, a tiny parasitic wasp who lays its eggs inside the mealybug, which will slowly mummify as the parasitic egg feasts on its innards before bursting out of the desiccated corpse, alien-style.
This dynamic duo of the Cryptolaemus and Anagyrus can work miracles, keeping the mealybug population in check while restoring the natural balance to the fields, growing beautiful grapes using the least amount of pesticides possible.
While these types of natural solutions illustrate certain techniques of biologically-based IPM, they aren’t the whole package. Beyond implementing these bug-busting superheroes, biologically-based IPM is about providing a sustainable, comprehensive solution using as many tools as possible in perfect harmony in order to control pest populations. The tools include predatory bugs, physical barriers, traps, and when necessary, controlled amounts of targeted pesticides.
But the trick to successful IPM comes in monitoring the balance. Making sure that the predators don’t overeat, or drastically alter their environment is hard work, and to do that you need expertise. Luckily, mummy-making wasps isn’t BioBee’s only product.
BioBee sells complete solutions, providing the expertise, knowledge and training necessary to make sure that their complex products are perfectly implemented. Biobee took special care to study each region with painstaking diligence. By learning the fields inside and out, Biobee knows the nuances and subtleties of using their products to balance the ecosystems they enter, and pass that knowledge on to the growers.
After entering the Indian market 3 years ago, BioBee has gradually adapted their solutions, perfecting it for the unique challenges India has presented over the years.
Some problems include dealing with the ant populations, tiny titans of industry that live off of the honeydew sap that mealybugs produce, cultivating them like livestock. They will often violently defend their insect-cattle, limiting the effectiveness of natural predators.
BioBee has found workarounds to this problem, making sure they educate their customers on how best to implement their products, opening demonstration farms in India, and holding its first conference on grape cultivation.
BioBee is driven to continue passing on the wealth of knowledge it has accumulated during its time in India, while driving home the best lessons of biologically-based IPM. By restoring the natural balance and working hard to maintain equilibrium, growers can cultivate a superior grape crop in a sustainable way.