To help keep flowers and crops blooming and thriving, a new agri-business in Orleans County is using good worms to wipe out bad bugs.
“We produce predators for the greenhouse industry," said Casey Decker, president of Sierra Biological, a Lyndonville-based company that harvests and sells nematodes, a kind of ringworm.
“This is what Mother Nature has been doing since time eternal,” he said.
The company began and moved from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and currently employs eight people to harvest the creatures.
“We can keep doing this forever— insects don’t build up tolerance to this," Decker said.
Insects can become immune to chemical pesticides, which is why Decker said this natural process is so effective and not harmful.
"The less pesticides we can use the better for everybody," said Jack Olson of Hi-Way Garden Center, one of Sierra Biological’s customers.
Hi-Way is one of thousands of greenhouses using the beneficial insects. Olson said his business has grown significantly thanks to the worms.
"We see the health of the leaves and the vitality of the plant exceeding what we've ever done in the past," he said.
Sierra Biological had a number of clients in the Buffalo region before choosing to expand in Western New York.
"It was an exciting industry, one that I was not familiar with," said Alan Rosenhoch of Invest Buffalo Niagara.
Besides the niche business that has been created locally, Rosenhoch said the company has and continues to create jobs, none of which require previous experience with plants or worms.
"There's eight people that are working there that are earning a great living, especially in one of the most rural parts of Western New York,” Rosenhoch said.