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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Carruthers, Raymond

Submitted to: Conservation Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/15/2003
Publication Date: 2/1/2004
Citation: Carruthers, R.I. 2004. Biological Control of Invasive Species, A Personal Perspective. Conservation Biology. 18(1):54-57

Interpretive Summary: Biological control is potentially a highly useful and effective means of controlling invasive pest species. Invasive pest species are estimated to cause over $100 billion in losses and control costs each year in the United States. The use of foreign natural enemies such as beneficial insects has proven both cost effective and useful for over 100 years. USDA-ARS and other organizations strongly support its use when conducted in scientifically credible and environmentally sound ways. Although some unwanted side-effects have been known to occur, this technology has had a long and safe record and is a preferred method of invasive pest control. It is recommended that biological control specialists, conservation biologists and ecologists all work together in a matter that will further insure the safety and effectiveness of biological control especially in managing invasive species in natural areas.

Technical Abstract: The USDA-ARS conducts extensive invasive species management programs using biological control. One method of biological control (Classical Biological Control) involves the collection, safety testing and introduction of exotic natural enemies into North America. This procedure has been safely conducted using insect natural enemies for more then 100 years. Early programs relied heavily on chance in achieving successful results. Modern science has improved the effectiveness and safety of biological control programs so that now programs result in more than 145:1 benefit cost ratios. Many pest weeds, insects and disease causing organisms have been managed in these ways with few negative side-effects. Some risk is always present with biological control or any other methods of pest management. Some programs have identified negative side-effects but these are small problems compared to the pest problems that have been solved using this technology. Pest management scientists, conservation biologists and ecologists are encouraged to work together further to improve the predictive ability associated with species introductions, including those linked with biological control programs. Through continued research and implementation linked with extensive monitoring programs, biological control can continue to be used as one of the primary tools that land managers use to combat invasive pest species.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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