Got Bugs? Nature's Pesticide

Got Bugs? Nature's Pesticide

Well, Mad Dog has bugs too (on our pepper plants). Normally when we say we have bugs, that’s a bad thing but our bugs are equivalent to miniature superheroes. In keeping with our philosophy at Mad Dog, of providing quality sauces derived from the cleanest natural sources we ensure that our growers use the safest methods to produce fiery pods.

All plants are susceptible to invasion from a host of native and invasive pests; many growers prefer to take the easy method of control by spraying harsh chemicals all over their plants which leave toxic residues.

Mad Dog’s growers prefer a different approach instead of using BCA’s. What is a BCA you ask? BCA is simply an acronym for a fancy horticultural term, Biological Control Agent (meaning; good bugs). Mad Dog’s BCA’s are always hard at work looking for would-be pests on our plants even while our growers are napping, not working, or daring each other to eat some of our true taste bud scorching sauces.

We use a host of insect and arachnid species which wander all over our plants, like “sauced” up pirates eating and slaying their way to Davy Jones’ Locker.

Our staple BCA’s include but are not excluded to Aphidoletes aphidimyza, also known as the aphid midge (a type of fly), these little guys look innocuous but their larva can eat up to 60 aphids (bad plant-sucking bugs) per day.

What makes Aphidoletes even more ferocious is the odd fact that even when they have gorged themselves full of aphids they will continue their pepper fueled rampage and kill more aphids for sport. Aphidius ervi and Aphidius colemani, the Aphid Parasite forms a group of minute wasps whose adults feed on nectar however they require aphids to carry they’re developing young. Looking like gnats Aphidius buzz around Mad Dog chili plants hunting groups of aphids, when they spot a couple they swoop in and sting several of them injecting one egg into each paralyzed aphid. The egg will hatch in a day or so and the Aphidius larva slowly eats its way through the aphid, in one week the wasp larva forms a pupa which will hatch into a fully formed adult that bursts through the now-dead aphid-like the 1980’s classic Aliens.

Amblyseius cucumeris, this guy is a microscopic mite (spider) who feeds on western flower thrip and chili pepper thrip. What else needs to be said? They might look like a speck of dirt to the naked eye but the Amblyseius spends its time eating plant chewing insects all day.

Orius insidiosus or the flower bug, with such a cute name one my think these tiny “true bugs” enjoy frolicking in the posies. Actually this isn’t so far from the truth, although we don’t grow posies at Mad Dog our Orius climb through the flowers and leaves of chili plants jabbing every insect they come across and sucking their juices out with their straw-like proboscis. Orius are generalists meaning that they are not discriminatory in their dietary choices and will kill even when they are not hungry. At Mad Dog growing peppers naturally is all-out war and things are just heating up.

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