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Title: Insects of commercial value in Maltese culture and tradition
Authors: Portelli, Paul (2011)
Keywords: Agricultural pests -- Biological control -- Malta
Insect pollinators -- Malta
Sericulture -- Malta
Issue Date: 2011
Citation: Portelli, P. (2011). Insects of commercial value in Maltese culture and tradition (Master's dissertation).
Abstract: This dissertation is an interdisciplinary study consisting of an historical, cultural and anthropological account of a number of insects of commercial value in the Maltese islands. It gives new insights into the role of these organisms in the life of the Maltese throughout the ages. The species treated in this study arc the honey bee (Apis mellifera), the silkworm (Bombyx mori), the eri silkworm (Philosamia ricini) and several species of insects used as natural enemies of insect pests. Up to the end of the World War II biological and physical control were the most important means of agricultural pest control. Before the war a number of insects were imported to control introduced and established pest species. Biological control lost its value after the war with the introduction of organochlorine pesticides. These chemicals were effective at killing pests but they also decimated the pests’ natural enemies. Without the biological control agents the number of pests increased with the obvious consequence of more damage to the crops. The honey bee has been playing an important role in Maltese culture for at least 2,000 years. This can be seen from the number of old apiaries found in the Maltese islands and place nan1es derived from the Maltese words for bees, honey, wax and apiaries. The honey bee has an important role as a main pollinator of agricultural crops and as a source of honey and other products. Silkworms have played a role in Maltese culture as there have been several attempts to introduce sericulture in the Maltese islands during the past 250 years. None of these attempts proved profitable enough and all were abandoned after a short while. The biggest attempt was made in the 1820s by the British, Irish and Continental Silk Company but despite the support given by the British authorities this project like the others was not successful and was terminated after some years. Insects will continue to play an important role in the life of the Maltese and more awareness should be raised about their value as pollinators and biological control agents.
Description: M.MALTESE STUD.
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - InsMS - 2011-2013

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