Orchard owner uses pigs in fight against beetle
Orchard owner, Jim Koan, has apparently resorted to
pigs in his battle against a beetle that threatens his 120-acre organic apple
As part of a research experiment believed to be among the first of its kind,
Koan is using pigs to help protect his fruit from the plum curculio, a tiny
insect that is among the most destructive apple pests.
More than two dozen pigs police his orchard, eating the immature apples
containing the beetle's larvae.
After a successful trial run late last spring, Koan and some researchers at
Michigan State University are gearing themselves up for the second year of the
experiment. They aim to reduce the use of pesticides in the long run for fruit
The quarter-inch-long plum curculio is particularly difficult for growers
like Koan to control because no good organic controls have been developed for
them. The beetle is best controlled conventionally, often with the pesticide
azinphos-methyl. The US Environmental Protection Agency is phasing out the
powerful pesticide, marketed under the trade name Guthion, because of the risks
it poses to farm workers and to the environment.
Finding an animal that would eat the fallen apples as they lay beneath the
trees, before the bugs became adults, was difficult. He tried chickens first
until the neighbour's dog attacked them.
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