Using Biological Control Agents Against Insect and Mite Pests
Natural enemies are living organisms that need to be released when pest populations are low. They do not act as quickly as pesticides, so cannot be used as a rescue treatment. Natural enemies are best used preventively, early in the cropping cycle, when plants and small pest numbers are low and pest damage has not yet occurred. This is a different mindset than traditional pest control, that is waiting until they see damage and then treating with insecticides or miticides.
Advantages of Using Biological Control Agents
- Less worker exposure to toxic pesticide residues
- Less change of spray damage
- No REI intervals to follow and natural enemies do your work (so you can spray less).
Using biologically based methods of control should be part of your resistance management plan. When you use biological control agents, you are helping to preserve the effective life of traditional pesticides by removing the selection pressure.
However, biological control programs use living organisms and extra effort is needed to make these programs work. Commitment, patience (natural enemies don't work as quickly as pesticides), and a desire to learn about life history and environmental requirements of pest and its natural enemy are all needed.