Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT OF INVASIVE WEEDS IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES Title: Classical Biological Control of Weeds

Author
item Smith, Lincoln

Submitted to: Noxious Times Newsletter
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: April 3, 2006
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Classical biological control of weeds is an important tool for managing invasive alien plants that have become too widespread to control by conventional methods. It involves the discovery and release of naturally occurring species of natural enemies (insects, mites or pathogens) to control a pest (plant or animal). It is only safe to use natural enemies that are very host-specific, otherwise they might damage other plants. Prospective biological control agents are carefully studied to determine if they can damage any other plants under no-choice conditions. Any nontarget plants that are at risk are further evaluated under more realistic conditions where the agent has a choice between the target weed and the nontarget plant. Agents that pass safety tests must be approved by both federal and state agencies before being permitted to be released. The decision to release a biological control agent is a governmental decision that weighs potential risks against benefits, which is aided by scientific information and analysis.

Technical Abstract: Classical biological control of weeds is an important tool for managing invasive alien plants that have become too widespread to control by conventional methods. It involves the discovery and release of naturally occurring species of natural enemies (insects, mites or pathogens) to control a pest (plant or animal). It is only safe to use natural enemies that are very host-specific, otherwise they might damage other plants. Prospective biological control agents are carefully studied to determine if they can damage any other plants under no-choice conditions. Any nontarget plants that are at risk are further evaluated under more realistic conditions where the agent has a choice between the target weed and the nontarget plant. Agents that pass safety tests must be approved by both federal and state agencies before being permitted to be released. The decision to release a biological control agent is a governmental decision that weighs potential risks against benefits, which is aided by scientific information and analysis.

Last Modified: 11/22/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page