All-natural pest control agent goes to market

Professor Tariq Butt from one of the leading insect mycopathology (insect pest control) teams in the UK based at Swansea University's College of Science (previously School of the Environment and Society) has led a team of researchers in developing an all-natural alternative to insect pesticides

WEEVIL LARVAE 

 

Met52, which was launched in February 2011 as a unique commercial product is the result of considerable research contribution by Professor Butt and his team, and is based on the fungal biological control agent (BCA) Metarhizium anisopliae for the control of vine weevils and western flower thrips in horticultural growing media.

Met52 has been launched by Fargro Ltd.  Dr. Paul Sopp, Swansea alumnus and Managing Director of Fargro, said: "Met52 is a significant advance for biopesticides in the UK and for the first time offers growers a chemical free persistent biological alternative to conventional chemicals."

The development of an effective all-natural alternative to pesticides is especially timely in the light of global concern over the effects of depleting populations of invertebrates through diseases possibly caused by harmful pesticides.

Professor Butt has shown over several years that Metarhizium is extremely effective against vine weevil and in many cases is comparable to chemical pesticides, but without the environmental risk associated with chemical pesticides and potential residues in fruit.

 METARHIZIUM VINE WEEVIL

Metarhizium parasitises the larval stage of soil pests especially vine weevil which is responsible for £20m of damage to UK ornamental and soft fruit crops.  The fungus is applied as a granule to the soil or potting media and infects vine weevil larvae that come in to contact with it.

Professor Butt said: ""The insect-pathogenic fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae, offers a natural method of pest control. This product is timely since new EU directives are encouraging member states to develop integrated pest management programmes which use benign plant protection products."

Paul Sopp concluded: "The work at Swansea has been instrumental in illustrating the potential of Metarhizium to the horticultural industry and we hope to progress further work with Professor Butt and Swansea University."

Metarhizium is produced by the Danish company Novozymes and is marketed in the UK and Ireland by Fargro.

Images: Five weevil larvae, healthy to left, sporulating to the right; Adult black vine weevil infected with Metarhizium anisopliae.


This news item has been generated by Mari Hooson, Swansea University Public Relations Office, Tel: 01792 513455 or email: m.hooson@swansea.ac.uk.