Biological control occurs when pests are controlled by non-pest organisms that inhabit the surrounding crop(s), or nearby habitat.
Biological control agents include:
- Beneficial arthropods (predators or parasitoids)
- Disease-causing organisms (pathogens)
- Vertebrate insectivores, such as birds and bats.
It is an important component of an IPM system as biological control agents have a number of advantages:
- In many cases they are already present and merely require appropriate management strategies (e.g. using selective insecticides where possible) to improve effectiveness
- Many are host-specific, allowing targeting of specific pests, and reducing the risk of pest resurgence
- Some may reduce or prevent population increases in secondary pests
- They provide the opportunity to manage pests with high levels of tolerance to chemical products
The Good Bugs website (http://goodbugs.org.au/) provides information on commercial insect, mite and nematode bio-control agents currently available in Australia and New Zealand.