30 August 2002

Hi-tech bugs help pest control trial

GROUND beetles are to be subjected to the latest in laser technology in a ground-breaking crop research project designed to determine their contribution to natural pest control.

Thousands of the beneficial bugs are to be pinned down and marked with lasers, released into an arable crop, and monitored to see how effective they are at controlling pests. The two-year study by the Game Conservancy Trust and the University of Plymouth could help reduce the amount of insecticide used on farms and so benefit other wildlife species.

Lasers have been pressed into use, because the paints and dyes used in previous studies have worn off, allowing the bugs to regain anonymity. "This will help provide more accurate information on dispersal patterns and population densities than ever before," says GCT entomology expert John Holland. &#42