Aluminum flags keep insects away - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Aluminum flags keep insects away

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April 7, 2004

Colquitt County - Insects can be a farmers worst enemy. All the pesticides in the world may not keep them away, so some south Georgians are trying a different approach.

It's a scenery that's guaranteed to spark your curiosity. Vegetable farmer, Kent Hamilton smiles, "A lot of people stop and ask questions."

A field of flags waving you by and if you get close enough you hear aluminum crackling in the wind. What are these sparkling silver attention getters? We stopped off at Southern Valley in Colquitt County to find out.

Hamilton grows anything from bell peppers to hot peppers. Little bugs called Thrips love both, but thrips don't like silver.

The insects spread the Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus from crop to crop, but the reflective strips confuse the millions of tiny insects. Hamilton says, "It messes up the way they navigate. Either they can't find the field or it irritates them so the throbs don't want to come into the field."

It's a cheap way to save acres of crops from being ruined by bugs. All it takes is a stake, an aluminum strip and a rubber band. Hamilton adds, "Around $100 an acre." That's nothing when you think of the acres of crops he has lost in the past to the virus.

Hamilton goes to great lengths to defeat the enemies. He also paints silver lines on the plastic beds. It's more expensive, but it works too. It keeps pesky bugs away and curious south Georgians stopping by.

Hamilton says last year was his first year putting out the aluminum flags. It was not a good study because of all the rain. Wet weather keeps the insects from coming around.

posted at 5:55PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com