A Glimpse Inside Colorado's "Insectary" Lab

Jul 25, 2016

Credit Dan Garrison / Harvest Public Media

In the small farming town of Palisade, Colorado, there’s a lab known simply as "The Insectary." Scientists in the facility are hard at work developing bugs. These insects are engineered to attack other bugs and invasive plants harmful to agriculture.

The adapted critters are known as “biocontrol insects.” Despite its humble surroundings, the Insectary is the oldest and largest such facility in the United States, reports member station KUNC.

In an age when many farmers and consumers view insecticides with suspicion, biocontrol insects provide a natural alternative. The lab consists of room after room of pesky insects and troublesome weeds that have caused farmers and ranchers headaches over the years. Scientists spend their days studying bugs that may eradicate these threats. The staff just has to be careful that the insects it unleashes don’t become pests themselves. Sometimes this can take twenty years of study.