Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICALLY-BASED TECHNOLOGIES FOR MANAGEMENT OF CROP INSECT PESTS IN LOCAL AND AREAWIDE PROGRAMS

Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit

Title: Augmentative biological control: research and methods to help make it work

Author
item Sivinski, John

Submitted to: CABI(Council of Applied Biology International, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 2, 2012
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Citation: Sivinski, J.M. 2013. Augmentative biological control: research and methods to help make it work. CABI(Council of Applied Biology International, Oxford, United Kingdom. 8(026):1-11.

Interpretive Summary: Natural enemies are often not sufficiently abundant to suppress early pest population growth. One solution, augmentative biological control, is to repeatedly release an appropriate number of effective natural enemies. While simple in concept, this is often difficult in practice. Scientists at the USDA-ARS, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, Florida, propose that augmentative releases could be much improved by the proper choice of natural enemies and integration with other controls such as Sterile Insect Technique, plants that support natural enemies and chemicals used by pests to locate food or avoid predators. New or not widely adopted technologies for mass-rearing, such as host-irradiation and producing female biased strains can lower costs. While many innovations are now costly and scientifically sophisticated, new techniques and genetic modifications could become widely available to the agricultural industry.

Technical Abstract: The essence of augmentative biological control is to repeatedly release an appropriate number of effective natural enemies into a particular place. In practice, especially in field situations, this is complex and faces challenges such as enemy dispersal, pest refugia and deleterious interactions within predator/parasitoid guilds. However, these may be addressed by the choice of natural enemies with specific or malleable dispersal capabilities and that attack hosts when most vulnerable. Integration of augmentative biological control with other control methods has not been sufficiently explored. The Sterile Insect Technique, and related technologies like conditional-lethality and genetic-drives, perform best at low and declining pest densities and should interact well with natural enemy augmentation. The addition of plants that support natural enemies, infochemicals such as kairomones to move pests into vulnerable positions and even certain pesticides are all candidates for integration with augmentative biological control. New or not widely adopted technologies for mass-rearing can lower costs. Host irradiation simplifies the handling of parasitoids, improves sanitation, facilitates the movement of natural enemies across borders and allows hosts to be exposed in sentinel-traps. Wolbachia infections are a common cause of all-female offspring in the Hymenoptera and some expenses could be halved by using these thelytokous strains. In certain cases hosts for specialist parasitoids can be inexpensively obtained from the unwanted sex of mass-reared pests. While many innovations are now costly, scientifically sophisticated and planned for use in regional-scale projects, new techniques and genetic modifications could become widely available to the agricultural industry.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page