Trichogramma is a cost-effective, eco-friendly solution
A study conducted by Annie-Ève Gagnon of the Centre de recherche sur les grains (CÉROM)1, published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, found that using trichogramma for biological control is as effective and less expensive than conventional insecticides. .
European corn borer, a tenacious pest
The European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) is one of sweet corn’s main pests in North America. The feeding larvae cause damage to the ears of corn and make them unsuitable for sale. This pest also feeds on other horticultural crops, including sweet and hot peppers, potatoes and snap beans.
The application of chemical insecticides is the most widely-used means of controlling corn borer populations. However, parasitic wasps of the genus Trichogramma have been available on the North American market since the 90s.
Study on the economic valuation of the use of trichogramma
In the summers of 2014 and 2015, researcher Annie-Ève Gagnon of CÉROM and her team conducted an economic and environmental valuation of the use of trichogramma as an alterative means of controlling European corn borer populations in processing corn.
The results showed that trichogramma is as effective as chemical insecticides. Introducing Trichogramma ostriniae significantly reduced the corn borer population and the damage to the ears of corn. Further, biological control with trichogramma was considerably more cost-effective than the application of chemical insecticides. The main effect was that the corn borer’s natural enemies were maintained, thus reducing secondary pest populations.
“Can biological control compete with the use of pesticides? The answer is yes,” says Ms. Gagnon. “In the case of the European corn borer, control with trichogramma is as effective as insecticides. Plus, it’s less expensive!”
1. Centre de recherche sur les grains, 740 chemin Trudeau, St-Mathieu-de-Beloeil, Québec, Canada J3G 0E2
Many thanks to Annie-Ève Gagnon for revising this article and letting us use her photos.