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 control, cultural 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 management. A 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.
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Entomopathogenic Nematodes for Control of the Asiatic Garden Beetle
Developed through a SARE project, this handout shows how certain naturally-occurring nematodes can kill insect pests, and how they can be isolated from the field, mass-reared, and applied back into the field for potential long-term control of Asiatic garden beetle grubs. The benefits and disadvantages of using locally-isolated nematodes for grub control are discussed.
Promoting Sustainable Biological Control of Soybean Aphid by Examining the Effect of Biodiversity and Releases of Parasitoid Wasps
George Heimpel and his research group at the University of Minnesota have been working on biological control of the soybean aphid since 2001. They have used a number of methods, including releases of specialized aphid parasitoids from Asia, and promoting native biological control through plant diversification strategies. Heimpel applied for an NCR-SARE Research and Education […]
Michigan Researches Use Flowering Plant Strips to Support Beneficial Insects and Increase Crop Productivity
Beneficial insects are valued on farms for their abilities to perform services like pollination and pest control. Researchers at Michigan State University are exploring whether plantings of native Midwest flowers can support beneficial insects and lead to improved crop productivity and quality. “There has been a growing interest in recent years about the economic and […]
Beneficial Insect Guide
A printed guide to insect conservation on fruit farms.
Biological Control of Insects and Mites: An Introduction to Beneficial Natural Enemies and Their Use in Pest Management
This colorful, richly illustrated booklet offers an introduction to beneficial natural enemies and their use in pest management.
Integrated Weed Management - One Year's Seeding
Weed biology and ecology can help every farmer become a better weed manager. This guide is the result of a series of winter meetings attended by Michigan farmers, MSU Extension agents and research scientists. It brings together field-tested experience from successful growers and Extension agents and insights distilled from more than 50 years of weed science research.