Biological Control

The educational materials listed on this page are about Biological Control.

What is biological pest control? Biological pest control mitigates agricultural pest damage by introducing or enhancing the population of pathogens, parasites or predators which prey upon the targeted pest. Biological control is often used in tandem with other pest management strategies, including physical controlcultural control and chemical controls.

There are three types of biological pest control. Classical biological control is the importation and release of natural beneficial insects for the biological control of exotic pests. Augmentation refers to the addition to the population of a natural enemy in a field where it is not currently present, or present only in small number. Producers who conserve the populations of augmented natural enemies or the ones that are already present in and around their fields are using conservation biological control. Biological pest control examples include the release of parasitic wasps to control corn borer, and lady beetles to control aphids in a wide range of crops. Biological pest control methods also include the integration of flowering crops and cover crops, vegetated buffer zones and crop rotations to provide beneficial enemies with adequate habitat.

The advantages of using biological pest control include the capacity to establish a sustainable population of predators that target a specific pest, avoiding the need for costly non-discriminatory pesticides (including biological pesticides) which can negatively impact the crop and/or beneficial organisms such as pollinators. The disadvantages of biological pest control include the risk of unpredictable and detrimental impacts on non-target species, which can reduce biodiversity in the agroecosystem.

SARE’s Manage Insects on Your Farm describes the role biological control plays in ecological pest managementA Whole Farm Approach to Managing Pests provides insights on how to rethink farming systems from the ground up to incorporate pest management into the entire production system. Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects outlines how to select and manage cover crops to attract beneficial insects.

North Carolina Researchers Find New Ways to Control Pest Mites in Tomatoes

MILLS RIVER, North Carolina – Predatory mites can control two-spotted spider mites in vegetable crops under the right management plan, according to a North Carolina State University researcher. James Walgenbach studied Phytoseiulus persimilis, a predatory mite, and its ability to control two-spotted spider mites in the tomato fields of North Carolina through a Southern Sustainable […]

Biological Control of Saltcedar

A fact sheet published by Texas AgriLife Extension on using leaf beetles as a biological control of saltcedar, an invasive shrub found throughout Texas.