On my farm here in the highlands of southern Costa Rica, we have a nice area on which we have planted citrus and avocado trees - a "frutal". But a plague of native leaf-cutter ants is devastating our new babies. My peon wants to use a powdered insecticide made especially for these ants because he has grown up using chemical as controls. We have an on-going battle about how best to protect the plants and encourage growth without using artificial and potentially dangerous herbicides and insecticides. He even dragged my to the local "cooperativa" to show me which insecticide he wanted to use. Sigh! I pointed to the words "peligro" and "venon" all over the package. Well, they've always done it that way and never bother to read the fine print (which, I must admit, is extremely small and difficult to read.
So I've been investigating biological control of native leaf-cutter ants and finding some creative possible solutions. The next big job will be to find the plants which are biological control agents and then convince Nogui to use them instead of the insecticide. IF he hasn't already purchased the insecticide and applied it without my knowledge to protect his precious frutales.
Although Nogui and I have an employee/employer relationship we have also developed rather close ties as a family unit and we share the bounty of any crops we produce. I know I can't pay Nogui what he is worth and his family is my "adopted" family. I can't let them go hungry. In this respect I am not a great business person. People are more important to me than money.
In any case I would be miserable without the loving support of my neighbors and friends here and I'm willing to yield (I'm a perfectionist by nature) to enjoy it. People are not perfect. But on the position of totally organic and natural, I am stubbornly fixed.
Anyone with a good solution to the problem of leaf-cutter ants biological controls PLEASE comment and send me links. And hurry! Nogui is getting very edgy!
Copyright Mary B. Thorman
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