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Biological Control

Biological control is the use of natural enemies (predators, parasites/parasitoids, pathogens as microbial insecticides) to suppress pests. Biological practices include using one organism to control another, as in attracting or releasing beneficial insects that are natural enemies of pest species into the landscape and protecting the beneficial organisms that exist in the landscape. Biological control tactics include the importation, conservation, and augmentation of natural enemies. Biological control is an environmentally safe method and is the basis for some integrated pest management programs.

Biological Control Considerations

Purchasing and releasing natural enemies for control of insect and mite pests is an attractive alternative to the potential hazards associated with chemical insecticides (i.e., toxic effects on non-target organisms, development of pesticide resistance and persistence in the environment).

Furthermore, releasing natural enemies, such as lady beetles, is educational and fun for children and adults alike. However, consumers are sometimes disappointed with the level of pest control achieved by releasing natural enemies. Successful use of natural enemies requires the use of appropriate species under proper conditions. A better understanding of this method of biological control can help improve your chances of success.


Hunter, C. D. 1994 ed. Suppliers of Beneficial Organisms in North America. California EPA, Dept. of Pesticide Regulation, l020 N. Street, Room l6l, Sacramento, CA 95814-5604; 916/324-4100.

Knutson, A., 1998. The Trichogramma Manual. B-6071. The Texas Agricultural Extension Service, The Texas A&M System, College Station, TX.

Flint, M. L. and S. H. Dreistadt. 1999. Natural Enemies Handbook – The Illustrated Guide to Biological Pest Control. University of California Press, 6701 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, CA 94608-1239.

Henn, T., and R. Weinzieri. 1990. Beneficial insects and mites. Circular 1290. University of Illinois, College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service.

Steiner, M.Y. and D.P. Elliott. 1987. Biological pest management for interiorscape plantings. Alberta Public Affairs Bureau, Publication Services, 11510 Kingsway Ave., Edmonton, AB, Canada T5G 2Y5.

For a listing of available biological control organisms in North America, see Suppliers of Beneficial Organisms in North America from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR).

For a report on advances in biological control technology in the greenhouse, request “Biological control of two-spotted spider mite in California greenhouses” and “Biological control of greenhouse whitefly in California greenhouses” from the Bulletin Secretary, University of California Cooperative Extension, 4205 Wilson Way, Stockton, CA 95205.