Worlds of David Darling
Encyclopedia of Science
Home > Encyclopedia of Alternative Energy

biological control

The use of biological methods to control pests. Usually the term describes the deliberate introduction of a parasite or other natural enemy of the pest, and is often preferred to the use of chemical pesticides. Examples include the introduction of ladybugs to kill scale insects on US citrus crops, and the use of cactus moth caterpillars to control prickly pear cactus on Australian farmland. In another method, successfully employed to control screw worm flies that parasitize cattle, male flies sterilized by radiation are released into the natural population to bring about a reduction in the fly population (because of the preponderance of sterile matings). Parasitic wasps are also commercially available to gardeners to control white fly and aphids in greenhouses. Care has to be taken with biological control so as not to upset the natural ecological balance.

Related category