An important objective of MBCN is to provide information to university Extension personnel who can then use the information in their own educational programs. Summer field days and clinics will always be important educational events. Field days provide opportunities to actually show new practices, rather than just talk about them. Therefore, we are again dedicating the June issue to an assortment of new biological control demonstration projects. These demonstrations are not intended to be "recipes" of how to conduct biological control in specific situations. Biological control is rarely accomplished by recipe approaches it is an overall management program that requires the pest manager to monitor pest and natural enemy activities and respond accordingly and even general guidelines can be quite lengthy. Therefore, our goal is to provide short, relatively easy demonstrations of specific natural enemy activity. Each project is meant to give you some ideas about designing a demonstration that can best suit your own needs.
You can use these demonstration projects in a variety of ways to develop educational programs. Each can be used as a focal point to discuss biological control of a specific pest, or pest management in general. Some of the demonstrations may require you to sample pest and natural enemy levels over a period of time; you can keep track of your data and present your findings as part of a field day or workshop. Other demonstrations are designed for maximum "audience participation"; these work particularly well in small group sessions. We have had to assume that you have some experience with the pests in at least one of the crops or situations presented. For example, if you have experience with alfalfa, we assume you know how to recognize the various stages of alfalfa weevil in order to raise their parasites. Even if you are acquainted with the pests and natural enemies involved in a project, you may wish to do a "dry run" to familiarize yourself with the critters and the procedures outlined. Finally, remember that you will be working with living organisms and they may not always behave the way we might predict; try to understand the outcomes of your projects, and the relevance to pest management.
Again this year we are providing a special pullout section for 4-H leaders and others involved in youth education. We feel strongly that education about pests and their management should occur early, both for farm families as well as urban and rural youth not involved in agriculture. Children of all ages have a natural curiosity about the world around them, bugs included. The project outlined in the 4-H section is designed to teach children about parasites and their hosts. Please be sure to mention this special section to your 4-H agent or copy it for any others involved in youth education who might be interested.
Although this issue of MBCN was developed primarily for our Extension subscribers and other educators, we feel that the information can be useful to all pest managers. For example, if you are currently using Bacillus thuringiensis, have you actually observed the outcome? If not, you might want to try the demonstration on Bt. Finally, as always, we want to provide you with a useful newsletter. What do you think about this issue on demonstration projects? Should we do it again next year? Let us know how your projects turned out and how your audiences responded. Drop us a note; send us e-mail; or give us a call.
- Dan Mahr, Project Director, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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