ISSN: 1063-262X

Integrated Pest Management-
Biological Control: Natural Enemies

AFSIC Notes no. 3

March 1992

Prepared By:
Jane Potter Gates, Coordinator
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Information Centers Branch
National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture
Beltsville, Maryland 20705-2351


Deflnition and History

Integrated pest management (IPM) is an ecologically based, environmentally conscious method that combines, or integrates, biological and nonbiological control techniques to suppress weeds, insects, and diseases ("Integrated Pest Management Systems: Protecting Profits and the Environment", by Raymond E. Frisbee and John M. Luna, Farm Management : The 1989 Yearbook of Agriculture, p 226. NAL Call No. lAg84y 1989).

Interest in developing IPM into crop management systems began in the 1960s. Credit for the IPM concept is given to Dr. Roy F. Smith and Dr. Harold T. Reynolds, of the University of California (op.cit.)

Integration of multiple pest suppression techniques has the highest probability of sustaining long-term crop protection ("Integrated Pest Management, a Sustainable Technology", by T.J. Henneberry et.al, Agriculture and the Environment: The 1991 Yearbook of Agriculture, p 151. NAL Call No. lAg84y 1991). An array of technologies and data analysis procedures have been developed about those strategies and tactics most appropriate for use in implementing specific IPM systems. These include economic thresholds, sampling technology, modeling, natural controls, geographic distribution, effects of pest migration and movement, host resistance, and pesticides (op.cit., p 152).

IPM's basic framework is acknowledged to be natural controls. These include natural enemies, weather, climate, and food resources. Natural enemies play an important role in regulating populations of all pest classes (op.cit., p 154).

Biological Control: Natural Enemies

Biological control utilizes natural enemies such as parasites, predators, pathogens or competitors, deriving its energy directly from the pests themselves. It is acknowledged to be the best type of pest control ("Biological Control" by Lloyd A. Andres, Research for Tomorrow: The 1986 Yearbook of Agriculture, p 15 1. NAL Call No. lAg84y 1986).

The biological control strategy was born in a citrus grove in 1889, in what is now the city of Los Angeles, California ("Biological Control Turns 100 This Year" by Jessica Morrison, Agricultural Research, V 37 (Mar 1989) n 3, p 4. NAL Call No. 1.98 Ag84). The release of 129 imported Australian vedalia beetles resulted in dramatic reduction of the cottony cushion scale which had threatened California's citrus industry. The technique of releasing an imported organism that establishes itself and spreads to permanently control a pest is today known as the classical biological control concept (op.cit.). Successful classical biocontrol means that no further costs are required to keep the pest under control.

Natural Enemies: Problems

Although simple in concept, the process of locating the place of origin of the non-native pest and then finding and introducing natural enemies from its place of origin presents obvious ecological and logistical challenges. For example, any introduced pest predator or parasite must undergo exhaustive testing before being released to be sure it will not harm non-target organisms. Even when challenges are successfully met, projects can fail because of problems relating to such factors as climate differences, prior or current pesticide use, disturbances of the habitat by other agricultural operations, and/or the removal of noncrop vegetation that might otherwise offer food and shelter to the natural enemies.

Natural Enemies: Strategies

Planting of cover crops, providing nectar-producing plants and sources of alternate hosts in and around fields, and interplanting different crops to provide habitat diversity are all management techniques that lead to the build-up of natural enemy populations and result in enhanced biological control of pests.

IPM: Prevailing Practice

Today virtually all land-grant universities, as well as USDA and the private sector, have implemented IPM systems for most agricultural crops ("Altering Insect Brain Chemistry" by Michael E. Adams, Research for Tomorrow : The 1986 Yearbook of Agriculture, p 142. NAL Call No. lAg84y 1986). In California, professional pest control advisers (PCAS) are licensed by the state to give pest management advice to growers. At the University of Minnesota, researchers are developing what may become known as the first biological herbicide (Joumal of Soil & Water Conservation v. 46 (2): p.231; 1991 Mar/Apr. NAL Call No. 56.8 J822). And in Florida, Sarasota County has become that state's first government entity to adopt integrated pest management on all its properties, calling it the wave of the future (American Nurseryman v. 147 (3): p.69; 1991 August 1. NAL Call No. 80 AM371).

Further Information: Contacts/Sources

Selected Readings

  1. "Before You Buy Botanical Pest Controls..." by Bob Hofstetter. The New Farm v. 13 (7): p.36-39; 1991 Nov/Dec. NAL Call No. Sl.N32

  2. "Biological Control: The Second Century" by M. R. Nelson. Plant Disease v. 73 (8): p.616; 1989 August. NAL Call No. 1.9P69P

  3. "Insecticide resistance management: an integral part of IPM" by J.B. Graves, B.R. Leonard, G. Burris, et.al. Proceedings -Beltwide Cotton Conferences, 1991 v.l: p.23-24. NAL Call No. SB249.N6

  4. "Insects & Diseases: Friends or Enemies". California Grower v. 15 (4): p.20-32; 1991 April. NAL Call No. SB379.A9A9

  5. "IPM and Beyond: Biological Pest Control in the Conservatory" by Kristine Ciombor. The Public Garden v. 6 (2): p.29-32; 1991 April. NAL Call No. QK71.P83

  6. "IPM in Turf' by James B. Beard. Grounds Maintenance v. 26 (3): p.26,28; 1991 March. NAL Call No. SB476.G7

  7. "Principles, Definitions, and Scope of Integrated Pest Control" by R.F. Smith & H. T. Reynolds, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Symposium on Integrated Pest Control, Oct.11-15, 1965, Rome Proceedings v. 1: p. 11-17. NAL Call No. SB951.FG2

  8. "Scout Crops Now to Protect Yields". Conservation Impact v. 9 (6): p. 1; 1991 June. NAL Call No. S604.C66

  9. [Series] by John A. Davidson and Charles F. Cornell. American Nurseryman. NAL Call No. 80 AM371.


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