Introduction and History Bio-Control

Introduction and History Bio-Control

Introduction and History Bio-control


Biological Control of Insects


What is biological control?

This segment contains several paragraphs with general information about biological control and these sub-sections:



Classical biological control


Procurement and release of natural enemies

Biological control is one component of an integrated pest management strategy. It is defined as the reduction of insect populations by natural enemies and usually involves an active human role. Keep in mind that all insect species are also suppressed by naturally occurring organisms and environmental factors, with no human intervention. This is often called natural control. This guide emphasizes biological control of pests but also includes biological control of weeds and plant diseases. Natural enemies of insects, also known as biological control agents, include predators, parasitoids, and pathogens. Biological control of these plant weeds includes insects and pathogens. Biological control agents of plant diseases are often called antagonists.


Predators, such as lady beetles and lacewings, are primarily free-living species that consume large amounts of prey during their lifetime. Parasitoids are species whose immature stage develops on or within an insect host, eventually killing the host. Many species of wasps and some flies are parasites. Pathogens are disease-causing organisms that include bacteria, fungi, and viruses. They kill or weaken their host and are relatively specific to certain groups of insects. Each of these natural enemy groups is discussed in greater detail in the following sections.


The behaviors and life cycles of natural enemies can be relatively simple or extraordinarily complex, and not all natural enemies of pests are beneficial to crop production.


For example, hyperparasitoids are parasitoids of other parasitoids. In potatoes grown in Maine, 22 parasitoids of aphids were identified, yet they were attacked by 18 additional species of hyperparasitoids.


This guide focuses on species for which the advantages of their presence outweigh any disadvantages. A successful natural enemy must have a high reproductive rate, good foraging ability, host specificity, adapt to different environmental conditions, and be compatible with its host (insects).


A high reproductive rate is necessary so that natural enemy populations can increase rapidly when hosts are available. A natural enemy must be efficient in its host search and must seek out only one or a few host species. For example, spiders also feed on other natural enemies of the host. It is also important that the natural enemy occurs at the same time as its host. For example, if the natural enemy is an egg parasite, it must be present when host eggs are available. No natural enemy has all of these attributes, but several will be more important in helping to maintain pest populations.


There are three broad and somewhat overlapping types of biological control: conservation, classical biological control (the introduction of natural enemies from a new location), and augmentation.


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Introduction and History Bio-Control


Introduction and History Bio-Control

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