Biological control

Biological control involves the use of natural enemies (Table 4.2) and pathogens for the control of pests. Some insects are classified as natural enemies as they are parasitic or predatory. Parasites nourish themselves on other species, called host. Predators in various stages of their lives nourish themselves on other insects, finding them in their natural habitat. Pathogens are fungi that grow on dead or living insects or mites. Biological control is, among the various alternatives to chemical control, the most promising because it is not dangerous and often has constant effectiveness in time. Nevertheless not all the key pests can be controlled with this strategy, as for example Ceratitis capitata, therefore it must be integrated with chemical pesticides or other means of control (Rosen, 1986, 1990). Biological control is a strategy intended to limit or avoid the use of chemical products. In order to intensify the use of biological control the research on introduction, rearing methods and release programmes of natural enemies has been stimulated. The methodologies applied are: rearing and mass-release of natural enemies in order to have a rapid decrease of insects population; protection and increase of natural enemies, by adopting some devices (increase of alternative hosts, use of selective pesticides, use of cultural practices helping their development). In order to carry out strategies of biological control, some knowledge and experience are necessary to avoid the use of inappropriate methods.

Table 4.2 Biological control of citrus pests by natural enemies

Pest

Parasite

Predator

Dialeurodes citri

Encarsia lahorensis

Clitostethus arcuatus

Aleurothrixus floccosus

Cales noacki

Synharmonia conglobata

Parabemisia myricae

Cales noacki

Conwentzia psociformis

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