- Author: Ben Faber
This is a call to prepare for pest invasions with an eye to proactive biocontrol written by Mark Hoddle in a recently published article in the journal BioControl:
A new paradigm: proactive biological control of invasive insect pests
Invasive insect pests are a significant and accelerating threat to agricultural productivity, they degrade wilderness areas, and reduce quality of life in urban zones. Introduction biological control, the introduction, release, and establishment of host-specific efficacious natural enemies, is an effective management tool for permanently suppressing invasive pest populations over vast areas, often to levels that may no longer cause economic or environmental damage. However, introduction biological control programs are reactive: they are only initiated after an invasive pest has established, spread, and is causing damage that requires mitigation. Host specificity and host range testing of natural enemies for use in an introduction biological control program against an invasive pest can take years to complete. During this time, the target pest population continues to increase, invades new areas, and inflicts damage.
Proactive biological control research programs identify prior to their establishment pest species that have high invasion potential and are likely to cause economic or environmental damage once established. Natural enemies are selected, screened, and if sufficiently host-specific, approved for release in advance of the anticipated establishment of the target pest. Following detection of the target pest and determination that incipient populations cannot be eradicated, natural enemies already approved for release are liberated into infested areas.
This proactive approach to introduction biological control could significantly reduce project development time post-invasion, thereby lessening opportunities for pest populations to build, spread, and cause damage.
Tamarixia radiata wasp for Asian Citrus control