Millions of mites and bumblebees will soon dominate Russian farms. (Photo: Darko Mareš/CC BY 2.0)

Farms in Russia will soon be battlefields teeming with insects. The country is being sent 500 million Israel-bred mites and bumblebees to help bolster agriculture production.  

Russia hopes the swarms of pollinators and pest-fighting insects will give the country greater agricultural independence. Ever since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Russia has been getting fewer European Union agriculture imports, including fruits, vegetables, and flowers, causing prices to rise.

In part to fight this new reality, Russia recently purchased $1 million worth of bugs from BioBee Biological Systems, an Israeli company, to support local farms and help fill the demand, The Jerusalem Post reports.

For two decades, the bug-breeding business based in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in northern Israel has been cultivating different species of insects as natural pesticides and pollinators. By providing more natural pesticide options, farms, commercial growing sites, and orchards can reduce the amount of chemical pesticides used on the crops.

BioBee will be sending Russia two species of large predatory mites, Phytoseiulus persimilis and Amblyseius swirskii. These mites are bred to attack the pest mites decimating crops, such as tomato, cucumber, and rose, and leave plants unscathed. The company is also sending Bombus terrestris, a species of bumblebee that is good at pollinating sweet peppers, strawberries, plums, apples, and cherries, among an assortment of flowering produce. Researchers are going to be conducting an experiment with the bees in cherry orchards, and if crop yields are a success they will use the technique to improve cherry production back in Israel.

The company has already sent its bugs to help the agricultural economy in South Africa, Chile, and India. In 2015, BioBee sent 600 million of the predatory mites to Colombia to fight the smaller mites destroying the coffee crop. But this will be the first time BioBee’s insects will be sent to the Crimean Peninsula.

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