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Yale Park Homeowners Association

Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Kimberly Schofield
Program Specialist-Urban IPM

Using Biological Control In IPM Plans

Biological control is an appealing choice to control pests, since there is no persistence of insecticides in the environment or the development of pesticide resistance.  The release of natural enemies such as predators, parasites and pathogens to control pests is a type of biological control called augmentation.  Natural enemies are living organisms, so their behavior under different environmental conditions can influence the degree of pest control achieved.

The act of purchasing and releasing natural enemies for the control of insect and mite pests can sometimes be disappointing, due to level of the control achieved.  Timing of the release of natural enemies is critical, since most require some time to affect the pest populations.  Releases of natural enemies at low pest densities are more effective than releases conducted to reduce high pest densities.  Environmental conditions can change dramatically and outdoor releases of natural enemies can be negatively affected by high winds, rain, hot or cold weather and other insects in the ecosystem.  In addition, many natural enemies attack only certain life stages, such as egg or larval stage of the pest so multiple releases may be necessary.

Commercially available products used in augmentation biological control include bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes, parasites and predators.  Companies selling natural enemies should provide consumers with directions on how to use their products and provide claims of product performance.  Also, the purchaser of natural enemies must be aware of legal and biological limitations.

Sometimes simply restricting the use of broad-spectrum insecticides will allow naturally occurring beneficial organisms to survive.  Remember that when some insecticides are used, the residues can remain for a period of time after use.  Also, insecticidal drift from adjacent areas can be toxic to natural enemies in neighboring areas.

Mention of commercial products is for educational purposes only and does not represent endorsement by Texas AgriLife Extension or The Texas A&M University System.  Insecticide label registrations are subject to change, and changes may have occurred since this publication was printed.  The pesticide user is always responsible for applying products in accordance with label directions.  Always read and carefully follow the instructions on the container label.

Email Mark Solomon Link to www.Assurnet.biz website

Email Abby Miller Link to www.FathomRealty.com website

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