Blanketing a home garden in pesticides poses a clear risk to the humans and animals who dine on it. But when the garden is compared to a human immune system, another problem becomes apparent: Just like antibiotics, pesticides wipe out the “good bugs” with the bad. These helpful predators and parasitoids are called natural enemies and they help to naturally control pests like aphids and caterpillars. Certain plants attract natural enemies and/or deter pests all together and can be used in place of harmful chemicals.
Many farmers throughout Latin America and around the world rely on pesticides to control pest invasions; in the case of Andean potato crops, this method is not only costly but has been shown to cause adverse health effects as well. Due to the risks involved in pesticide usage, and the ever-increasing demand for high-yield crops, new methods of controlling pest invasions are being explored by researchers regularly. And as counterintuitive as these new findings sound, ecological scientists have discovered that, in the case of Colombian potato farms in the Andes, the pests themselves could actually increase productivity.