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NC State Extension

Biological Control

Biological Control refers to cases where people purposely manipulate populations of natural enemies such as predatory and parasitic insects in order to manage undesirable organisms.

Biological Control is conducted in three main ways. 

Importation Biological Control

This usually involves importing an effective natural enemy(ies) from the homeland of an exotic, invasive pest species.

ladybeetles

Augmentation Biological Control

This usually involves the purchase of commercial biological control products for release to prevent pest outbreaks, but also to manage outbreaks.crop growing in greenhouse

Conservation biological control

This usually involves either modifying pesticide application practices to favor natural enemies, or modifying an environmental condition (e.g., habitat) to favor enemies. field with crop emerging

Natural Control versus Biological Control

Natural control by beneficial insects or other environmental factors happens regardless of whether humans are aware of it or not. Biological control is when humans purposely manipulate populations of beneficial insects to manage undesirable insects.

Insects that Provide Biological Control

Explore these “Beneficial Insects” categories to see some examples of beneficial insects that provide biological control.

Economic Value of Biological Control

Importation biological control can be very cost effective when successful, with cost-benefit ratios exceeding 1:10. In higher-value cropping systems such as greenhouses, orchards or nurseries, augmentation biological control can be a cost-effective approach to managing insect pests. Although the economic benefits of using beneficial insect habitat are hard to calculate, modifying pesticide use practices can pay big dividends. Simply adopting a practice called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) will result in greater effectiveness of beneficial insects and economic benefits to farmers (see for example Furlong 2004).